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Capitol Police officers stationed around Capitol Hill reacted with shock to a BBC report that Capitol Police commanders told a team of their heavily armed officers to stand down when they arrived on the scene of Monday’s deadly Navy Yard shooting.
“Stunned” and “embarrassed” were among the reactions overheard from officers posted around the Capitol complex discussing the allegations that one of the best-trained tactical units in the city was ordered to leave the scene of a mass shooting.
In response to the revelations, the Capitol Police Board — Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers and Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine — on Wednesday established at Dine’s request a “Fact Review Team led by Michael Stenger, Assistant Sergeant at Arms for Protective Services and Continuity and former Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service” to get to the bottom of the questions, according to a release from the board.
“The review team will conduct its work and report its findings and recommendations to the Capitol Police Board and Chief Dine no later than October 21, 2013,” the release said.
“Since the events transpired, numerous media outlets have raised questions specifically about the USCP’s response. I take our response to this tragedy and our support to law enforcement partners very seriously. While I am the Chief of Police, at my core I am a police officer who feels strongly about our shared commitment and responsibilities. Because of the concerns that have been raised, and my strongly held beliefs, I have asked the Capitol Police Board to lead an independent fact review of our response, specifically our mutual aid efforts,” Dine said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., told CQ Roll Call that based on her familiarity with the Capitol Police forces, who “bravely protect the Capitol,” she believes the forces were told to stand down out of concern that their efforts would be better directed at protecting the grounds surrounding the Capitol.
“I don’t think anyone told them to stand down because they didn’t want them to be there,” Norton said. She said she thinks the Metropolitan Police Department’s assessment that there could be multiple shooters on the loose affected the supervisors’ decision.
Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., who heads the House Administration Committee charged with oversight of the Capitol Police, declined to comment on whether her committee would further investigate the claims or the Capitol Police Board investigation.
“I have spoken to the U.S. Capitol Police Chief and have been advised that there is currently an active investigation into the allegation,” Miller said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.