Librarian Proposes Separate Division for LOC Police

Posted April 8, 2003 at 4:38pm

Librarian of Congress James Billington announced Tuesday that the Library will seek to create a separate division within the Capitol Police Department as officials plan for the merger of the law-enforcement agencies.

The merger, mandated by the fiscal 2003 omnibus spending bill, will incorporate the Library’s 132-member force with the larger Capitol Police force.

Currently, the Capitol Police patrol the area around the Library as part of their primary jurisdiction, and the two forces are similar in both pay scale and mission, protecting Members of Congress and their staffs, national treasures and tourists.

In testimony before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Tuesday, Billington, along with Deputy Librarian Donald Scott, explained that the Library will seek to maintain a separate budget for the division, which would remain under direct control of the librarian.

The librarian would also retain “statuary authority to make rules and regulations for the governance of the Library, including protection of its buildings and grounds, people, collections and other assets,” according to Billington’s written testimony.

“The collections pose a very, very special set of problems,” Billington said, citing as an example: “We have to inspect people very carefully when they leave as well as when they come in because we need to make sure nothing is taken out” of the Library’s collection.

Library officials and Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer met March 26 to begin discussing the merger process. As a result, Capitol Police have set aside training space for Library officers and will seek to include the Library in the Capitol’s emergency annunciator system.

Additionally, the Library has sought to meet the same standards for physical security — such as protective bollards — as the rest of the Capitol complex.

“We think we are in lock-step in trying to improve security across the board,” Scott said.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel said she could not discuss details of the merger, which is still in the early stages of planning.

Billington also reviewed the Library’s fiscal 2004 budget request for $576.6 million, an 8.4 percent increase from this year.

Much of the increase will go to finance security measures for the Library’s collection, as well as its buildings and employees. “Security is the most important aspect for this year,” Billington said.

The request includes $17.5 million to fund 62 additional full-time employees, along with an emergency management office and medical emergency coordinator post.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle also testified during the hearing; however, his predecessor, Alfonso Lenhardt, presented the bulk of the office’s testimony, including its fiscal 2004 request.

The Sergeant-at-Arms will seek $198 million for the coming year, an increase of nearly 26 percent.

The request includes a 39.5 percent increase for security measures to nearly $21 million from $6 million in fiscal 2003.

The extra funds would pay for $2.7 million in security upgrades for Members’ state offices; $3.3 million for the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness; $3.7 million for mail and package processing; and $5.3 million for an alternate computing facility.

“There are always opportunities to enhance and better prepare the Senate to survive in any kind of environment,” said Lenhardt, who stepped down March 17.

Lenhardt also said the Senate should provide a legislative mandate to allow for future security upgrades and to permanently establish the emergency preparedness office.