House Panel Calling Capitol Police Chief to the Hot Seat
The House Administration Committee has an exclusive witness list of one for an upcoming hearing: Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine.
Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., predicted “a lot of engaged members and a lot of questions” at the May 20 hearing. The panel, which has jurisdiction over Capitol Police and other internal operations of the institution, plus federal elections, has never before called Dine as a witness. It could be some members’ first time coming face to face with the chief of the 1,775 sworn officers who protect the Capitol. Ranking member Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., said, “I’ve never met the guy,” in February, when CQ Roll Call asked for his opinion of Dine’s leadership, amid criticism from the rank and file. Dine was sworn in on Dec. 17, 2012, after a 37-year career that began with D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.
“We just want to talk about the security here, overall, the challenges that we face,” Miller said Thursday. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, handed Miller the gavel at the start of the 113th Congress. She has received private briefings from the chief since then about specific security concerns, including one on the April 15 gyrocopter landing. “We’re looking for a general overview, we’re doing our oversight — due diligence, on the Capitol Police,” she said.
The hearing comes about six weeks after CQ Roll Call reported that Dine had submitted his resignation letter to the Capitol Police Board. Assistant Chief Daniel B. Malloy abruptly capped his 30-year career with the department days later, and Dine quickly promoted Deputy Chief Matthew R. Verderosa to fill the position. In addition to the personnel changes, a man committed suicide on the West Front and the gyrocopter landed. Then came CQ Roll Call’s May 1 report of officers’ service weapons misplaced around the Capitol.
Capitol Hill’s top law enforcement officials have signaled they are willing to work with Dine and Verderosa for the time being . But they are also awaiting reports related to the gun incidents from the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and independent inspector general. Fresh scrutiny from lawmakers also revealed the department’s $348 million budget is stretched thin .
Before the hearing, the House will likely take up the appropriations bill that includes funding for the Capitol Police. It would provide $369 million for Capitol Police, an increase of $21 million from fiscal 2015. Miller said she wants to hear from Dine whether the department has enough resources.
“We have a close working relationship with our oversight committees and are always interested in their feedback and ideas for the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP),” spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said in an email. “Their support of the women and men of the USCP is invaluable, and we are appreciative of the opportunity to meet next week with Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Brady and the other Members of the Committee on House Administration in an open forum to discuss wide-ranging topics engaging the Department.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, recently sat down with uniformed officers involved in the gyrocopter incident for a private briefing, hoping to nail down answers Dine couldn’t give during a hearing on the incident, especially whether guns were trained on the aircraft.
“I appreciate them just candidly telling us what they saw, when they saw it and what they could do about it. It was a good meeting,” Chaffetz said on May 14. “I still have deep concerns about our ability to identify an incoming aircraft. I feel great about the men and women who serve here at the Capitol. I have no doubt about their capabilities and their desire and tenacity in doing their job — none whatsoever.
“But if they don’t see it coming and nobody tells them that it’s coming, there’s only so much they can do,” he added. Chaffetz said he is looking to the Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command and others to play a part in that.
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