Several Members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, had public events scheduled for Saturday. A spokesman for California Democrat said the San Francisco event would proceed as scheduled.
When reached by phone Saturday afternoon, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, a former police chief who sits on the Capitol Police board, said he is not in a position to comment and that his office is trying to work out its next course of action.
Former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle said it’s common policy for Members to get an extra protective detail when intelligence indicates they may be in danger.
But with 535 Members, Pickle added, the Capitol Police does not have the resources to protect everyone all the time. Instead, Members rely on local law enforcement to protect them during public events, he said.
“The only people who have full-time protection in Congress are Members of leadership,” Pickle said. “I don’t think there's anything more the Capitol Police could have done. They don't have the resources to do more than what is normally done.”
Capitol Police did not say whether Giffords had a protective detail, citing department policy not to comment on Member security.
Pickle said that he’s confident the Capitol Police will send investigators to Arizona to oversee the investigation into Giffords’ shooting and find out whether there should have been more security.
“It’s safe to say the Sergeant-at-Arms of both the House and Senate will ask the police to conduct a complete review of what happened to try to determine that there had been any threats against her and any intelligence that would have perhaps caused them to be more involved,” Pickle said.
“There is no place in our society or discourse for such senseless and unconscionable acts of violence,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former two-term governor of Arizona.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Dan Lungren, chairman of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police, said the California Republican has been briefed.
“Mr. Lungren and his staff have been briefed on today’s tragic incident and are working with House Leadership and House security officials to ensure that the necessary security measures are in place,” Salley Wood said.
Jackie Kucinich and John Stanton contributed to this report.