Updated 3:20 p.m. | When a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's security detail left his Glock and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder of a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom stall, a CVC worker found the gun, according to a source familiar with the Jan. 29 incident and two other disturbing instances when Capitol Police left loaded firearms in problematic places. A 7- or 8-year-old child visiting the Capitol with his parents found the next loaded Glock lost by a dignitary protection officer, according to the source. A member of the security detail for John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, allegedly left the firearm in the bathroom of the Speaker's Suite on March 24.
A third Glock was found the night of April 16 by a janitor cleaning the Capitol Police headquarters building on D Street NE. The weapon was left in plain sight, sparking additional concern about the department charged with protecting one of the world's most important and frequently visited complexes.
On Friday, CQ Roll Call spoke with members who called for a full investigation into firearms regulations. House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said he wanted Capitol Police to "retrain everyone that carries a gun."
Unlike a gun with a traditional safety, a Glock will fire if the trigger is pulled — making the young boy's alleged discovery of a gun in Boehner's office particularly concerning. The gun lost by McConnell's detail was left in a CVC bathroom within the Senate office space portion of the complex, lowering the likelihood it would be found by a tourist or visitor.
A report to the Capitol Police Board, obtained Thursday by CQ Roll Call, showed the department's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended six days of suspension without pay for the officer involved in the Jan. 29 incident. The latter two are still under investigation, which consists of matching the serial number to the department's inventory record, then interviewing the officer.
How often do officers leave their guns unattended around the Capitol complex? The answer is unknown because Capitol Police are not required to disclose such incidents. The Jan. 29 incident went out over the radio system, but the other two have been kept quiet, based on conversations with nine Capitol Police employees from various divisions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal issues. None seemed surprised, and two offered other examples of officers who were investigated for leaving their guns unsecured or unattended.
"The Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters," said Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, in an email. "Each disciplinary matter is thoroughly investigated and reviewed, employees are held accountable for their conduct, and they are provided due process in adjudicating these matters. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee's record, and other required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment. As a matter of policy, the Department does not routinely discuss internal personnel matters, in order to maintain the integrity of the Department."
It's unclear how thoroughly the two top Republicans in Congress were briefed on lost gun incidents involving their respective security details. Boehner's office had no immediate comment. McConnell's office also did not immediately comment.
The top law enforcement officials in the Capitol also stayed silent. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Frank J. Larkin, chairman of the Capitol Police Board, referred questions to the Capitol Police Public Information Office. House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving also had no comment.
Reports of the lost guns come at a tumultuous time for Capitol Police. On Wednesday, Chief Kim C. Dine was in the hot seat for poor communication with the congressional community during the April 15 gyrocopter landing on the West Front, and a lack of critical facts after the incident.
House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said the chain of command could be clarified. "Who's his boss?" she asked rhetorically of Dine during a Thursday interview. "When you look at communication protocols, chain of command in any military organization — which every police force is — is always a very critical component of that."
Miller, who also serves as vice chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee, suggested the 9/11 Commission Report contained an important lesson for Capitol Police: "We need to move from the need to know information, to the need to share information."
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