A day after House Members complained in security briefings that threats had not been thoroughly investigated, the chamber’s top law enforcement official is telling them to get in direct touch with any concerns.
House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood sent a letter to House offices telling them to appoint a “law enforcement coordinator,” who can establish a working relationship with police. Livingood announced a new e-mail address the staffers can use to communicate directly with his office.
“In the event that liaison by the [law enforcement coordinator] with local law enforcement does not alleviate your concern, advise the Office of the Sergeant at Arms,” Livingood wrote. “As was done during recent town hall meetings, an effort will be made to obtain sufficient public safety resources through the liaisons between the U.S. Capitol Police and local law enforcement.”
Livingood, Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse and representatives from the FBI briefed Members on Wednesday to reinforce security protocol and alleviate anxiety in the wake of the Saturday shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
“The recent tragedy in Arizona has reminded everyone in the Congressional community of the need to remain alert and vigilant at all times,” Livingood wrote. “Your judgment is vitally important in assessing an event and its circumstances. Your local experience is the best indicator we will have as to the particular characteristics of an event.”
Livingood urged staffers to voice concerns with Members, never leave a Member alone at events and inspect meeting sites before an event takes place to be familiar with all emergency exits.
He also told Members to consider the installation of a “panic button” in district offices to alert local police. Some Members already have such a device.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.