Capitol Police Board Aims to Replace Chief Quickly
Two former Secret Service agents and an architect walk into a board room. They’re charged with finding a replacement, and soon, for outgoing Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine.
They have a lot of work to do, with Dine retiring in January but coordinating security for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, particularly the pontiff’s Sept. 24 address to a joint meeting of Congress and for the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more, expected on the West Front and National Mall for the papal visit.
It will be up to the Capitol Police Board, the two Secret Service veterans who serve as sergeants-at-arms for the House and Senate — Paul D. Irving and Frank J. Larkin, respectively — plus Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, to choose a successor for Dine, who will assist the board with the selection.
“The Capitol Police Board is in the process of assembling a search committee of law enforcement professionals that will help plan and guide selection criteria that will consider both internal and external candidates,” Larkin said Tuesday in a statement to CQ Roll Call.
“Our goal is to quickly announce the position, attract executives experienced in security policing and identify suitable candidates for final consideration to be Chief Dine’s successor,” he continued. “We seek to seat the most qualified person that will lead this large and complex department forward in its mission to protect the legislative branch of our government.”
Selected from a vast pool of internal and external candidates in December 2012, Dine took over a department rife with tension over conflicts between commanders and the police union.
Terrance W. Gainer, who held the Senate SAA post in 2012, helped pick Dine. The two men worked closely at the Metropolitan Police Department prior to their jobs at the Capitol. That experience helped Dine “understand the city very well,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a Tuesday phone interview.
Dine’s tenure was marred by high-profile incidents second-guessed by everyone from the members of Congress, to the Capitol Police Board and the department’s rank and file.
The chief sent a 306-word memo to his employees Monday, announcing he would retire his badge. That came several months after Dine offered his resignation to the board, which refused the offer.
He encouraged his department to “remain focused” on planning for the papal visit in a brief internal memo announcing his plan to retire.
President Barack Obama’s second inauguration loomed large as Dine prepared to take over in late 2012, and his last months as chief will largely be spent preparing for the pope’s visit. Those events will bookend Dine’s tenure, but other challenges will help define it, chief among them a spate of officers leaving their service weapons in bathrooms around the complex. The incidents, first reported by CQ Roll Call in May, eventually made Capitol Police the butt of late-night jokes, with Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show producing a fake instructional video on guns-in-the-potty protocol.
But there were other episodes.
During the 2015 State of the Union address, one of the biggest nights of the year for Capitol Police, a car chase that ended without arrest left some officers alleging a pattern of poor leadership decisions.
The fallout exacerbated other tensions. For instance, an outraged Sen. John McCain had harsh words for Dine and the newly appointed Larkin over an unrelated security snafu involving former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shortly after the State of the Union address.
Capitol Hill’s response to the September 2013 shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard was met with intense scrutiny from both rank-and-file officers and members of Congress. Dine later acknowledged that an uneven response — the Senate went into lockdown, while the House did not — resulted in confusion and should not be repeated.
Members of Congress also grilled Dine about the Oct. 3, 2013, deadly shooting of Miriam Carey, but he stood by the department’s use of force.
Carey’s killing and the Navy Yard response intensified calls to complete a long-delayed radio upgrade, started under Dine’s predecessor, Phillip D. Morse, in 2006. By February 2014, with more than $100 million invested in the project, the majority of officers retired their Reagan-era radios for new models.
In May, responding to questions on unattended guns around campus, Dine told Congress his long-term focus was implementing a new strategic plan. Light blue palm cards summarizing the agency’s mission, vision and “core values” were soon dispersed to officers, plus a survey asking employees to provide feedback about the workplace.
But the hits kept coming.
Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., sent letter to Dine on July 28 questioning protocols for internal affairs investigations, and stated plans to hold “accountability sessions” with officers.
Nugent also raised the issue of civilian hiring, a flashpoint for tensions with the union.
Less than a week later, Dine announced he was done.