After more than three decades on the force, Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa received recognition and a fond farewell from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the House floor Wednesday.
“Police Chief Verderosa has proven himself as leader of the highest patriotism and professionalism who has proudly carried forth the Capitol Police’s nearly two centuries of storied service,” Pelosi said on the floor.
Verderosa announced on May 1 that he will retire from the force on May 31, after a 34-year career in law enforcement and three years leading the force.
Pelosi and McCarthy both referenced his critical role leading the department during and after the shooting at a Republican baseball team practice in 2017. The incident left then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise seriously injured, in addition to Crystal Griner and David Bailey, Capitol Police officers on Scalise’s security detail and two others.
“We’re reminded of the number of members’ lives you saved, your officers, that day,” said McCarthy.
Many members of the baseball team credit Scalise’s Capitol Police detail with preventing a massacre that day.
“Everybody probably would’ve died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill Police were there, and the only reason they were there is because we had a member of leadership on our team,” Sen. Rand Paul said at the time. “The only chance we had was that the shots were returned by the Capitol Hill Police.”
The shooter, James Hodgkinson, died on the scene after a gun battle with police.
Pelosi praised Verderosa’s long career, but gave special attention to the baseball shooting.
“The chief responded to that attack with courage, vision, and grace, bringing help and healing to those affected and to our entire congressional community,” she said.
Pelosi recognized that she has a closer relationship with Capitol Police than most members and staff who work on Capitol Hill. As speaker, she is flanked by a team of Capitol Police officers from the dignitary protective division wherever she goes.
“On a personal note, for someone that benefits from the Capitol Police every day and everywhere I go, I want to extend my gratitude for Chief Verderosa,” said Pelosi.
McCarthy also has a protective detail and mentioned that there is a spot in the majority leader’s office — which he once occupied — that honors Capitol Police who have died in the line of duty. Verderosa was on duty in July 1998 when a gunman, attempting to get into the leadership offices, killed two Capitol Police officers, Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson.
Pelosi and McCarthy acknowledged that the Capitol Police protect more than just lawmakers working at the Capitol.
“Think of the complexity of being a Capitol Police officer. It’s not just the safety of the women and men who serve in here. It’s the thousands of visitors that come every day. But it’s also the responsibility of keeping a government by the people, for the people, and of the people open,” said McCarthy.
Pelosi pointed out that the department has handled mass protests and multiple honor ceremonies in the last year, in addition to the more than 11 million annual visitors to the Capitol grounds.
“Thank you for protecting the legislative process and this legislative body, ensuring that the people’s House can do the people’s work. We are profoundly grateful. We wish you well in your well-earned retirement,” Pelosi said in closing.