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Police Want to Curtail Capitol Fourth of July Festivities

Staffing the July Fourth and Memorial Day concerts, including rehearsals and setup, cost Capitol Police more than $735,000 in overtime during 2014. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

First sledding , now the Fourth of July.  

Law enforcement authorities at the Capitol are asking congressional leaders to curtail the most patriotic summer celebrations on the Hill by implementing new restrictions on Independence Day and Memorial Day festivities. The Capitol Police Board has asked the Capitol be restricted to members and staff who have offices in the Capitol, plus the VIPs.  

And the board — consisting of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine and Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers — recommends restricting access to the most coveted seating for the annual fireworks display. They want to limit use of the Upper West Terrace to members and guests, and restrict the Lower West Terrace to congressional staff only.  

The board also has requested post-concert receptions be relocated from their usual location in Statuary Hall and the Rayburn Room to the U.S. Botanic Garden, saying managing the large crowd outside the Capitol makes it hard to ensure the historic building remains well-protected.  

In a March 12 letter, first reported Tuesday evening by CNN , the police board stated security protocols have been rendered unenforceable on holidays in past years. The day offers more relaxed rules to maximize fun, with credentialed staff being allowed to cart in bags and coolers containing icy beverages. "These liquids are frequently sanctioned as 'staff property' and allowed to bypass the regulation to expedite the security screening process," the letter stated.  

For Capitol Police, costs of staffing such summer event have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2014, the agency used a combined 12,174 hours of overtime work for the Memorial Day and July Fourth holidays during setup, rehearsals, and the concerts themselves. The price tag, according to the police board, was $735,252.  

Related: Ban on Capitol Hill Sledding Continues The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.