An armored police vehicle and an officer in body armor stood guard on the East Plaza of the Capitol on the day of the Navy Yard shooting.
In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the Capitol’s top law enforcement officials went in different directions on security — resulting in an uneven response to a potential campus threat that Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine hopes is never repeated.
Monday marked the first time Dine responded to questions about the Navy Yard lockdown, acknowledging that concerns about the campus were “well-taken” and saying: “At the end of the day we need to come to the same conclusion.”
On Sept. 16, shots were first reported shortly after 8:15 a.m. at the Navy Yard’s Building 197, about 1.5 miles southeast of the Capitol.
About seven hours after the massacre, with shooter Aaron Alexis confirmed dead and most of the lingering questions about other suspects laid to rest, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer ordered a lockdown of his jurisdiction.
House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving came to a different conclusion, choosing to keep his half of the heavily armed campus open and operating.
Six months later, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., remains curious about the dissonance between the two chambers. During a House Appropriations panel on Monday, Bishop took the opportunity to ask Dine about the conflicting response on campus.
Bishop questioned why only the Senate wing of the Capitol complex went into lockdown when the House was closer to the shooting. “Doesn’t that create some confusion?” he asked.
Dine agreed that it did and said, “We will do everything in our power to not . . . have that happen again as long as we’re all here.
“Obviously I conferred with the [Capitol Police] Board and that was a dynamic, fluid situation,” he continued. “People do things how they do them, but I agree with you that was not an optimum way to handle the campus, because what we want to do is have an across-the-board comprehensive, sort of cohesive message.”
Gainer and Irving, who sit on the Capitol Police Board along with Dine and Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, explained some of their decision-making to CQ Roll Call on the day after the shooting.
At the time, Gainer acknowledged that it would have been more effective to lock down both wings and said his decision to lock down did not seem necessary. The former Capitol Police chief told CQ Roll Call that he acted out of caution, not wanting to take any chances.
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.