LOC Police Violate CAA, OSHA Requirements

Posted January 9, 2004 at 3:29pm

The Library of Congress police department violated the Congressional Accountability Act for failing to sufficiently staff and train officers working in its command center, according to a recent Office of Compliance investigation.

Initiated in June at the request of the Library of Congress Police Labor Committee, the investigation focused on claims that “unqualified police officials have been used to substitute for trained technicians and that the [Police Command Center] is not adequately staffed,” states an OOC memorandum dated Dec. 4.

The LOC Police Command Center contains security equipment such as emergency communications systems, video monitors, fire safety system equipment, and police radios and telephones.

Responding to the investigation, a Library spokeswoman said: “While the Library cannot comment in detail about the staff assignments and training of Library police officers for security reasons, every effort is being made to ensure that the new Police Control Center is appropriately staffed at all times in order to ensure the safety and health of its staff and visitors.” According to the OOC memo, Library police are required to submit a report by Jan. 22 detailing staffing levels.

The OOC determined the agency violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act on two counts, following a series of interviews with both Library police officials and rank-and-file officers that began in mid-August.

“The lack of a sufficient number of staff on duty at all times increases the risk of injury to on-duty LOC police officers and others in the building from missed or poorly understood communications, delays in dispatching necessary prompt assistance and not executing required procedures for effective and safe functioning and operation of security systems and fire protection systems,” the memo states.

Also among the concerns raised by OOC investigators were training manuals that either showed outdated equipment or completely failed to address some emergency systems.

“OOC has gleaned from those interviewed who are attempting to perform the work of a technician that there are serious concerns about the adequacy of the training provided in July 2003. … OOC is concerned that some training topics were apparently not addressed in the course and sufficient time to practice train to develop required skills and proficiency in handling an emergency was not provided.”

According to the OOC memo, Library officials will use “interim procedures” through March, including reduced staffing during the Library’s off-peak hours, to train current staff on the command center’s equipment and to hire additional staff.

Library officials told OOC investigators they plan to conduct additional promotional exams to qualify new technicians for work in the command center, the investigation notes.