There were 727 complaints lodged against the Capitol Police over a three-year span from 2017 through 2019, according to a summary of internal affairs investigations by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The Capitol Police force has approximately 2,000 sworn officers and has seen the number of complaints fluctuate from 246 in 2017 to 253 in 2018 and 228 in 2019. Of those complaints, 151 were sustained in 2017, 128 in 2018 and 137 in 2019.
“The total number of ‘sustained charges’ refers to the number of allegations, following a thorough Office of Professional Responsibility investigation, internal review, and employee appeal process that were upheld,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said.
The number of sworn officers at the Capitol Police is approximate because, Malecki, when asked for the figures, gave the combined number of sworn and civilian employees, which is 2,300. Capitol Police union head Gus Papathanasiou estimates the number of sworn officers at around 2,000; a former House Administration aide said the number is about 1,900.
The majority of complaints against the Capitol Police were generated either internally or from the public. For example, in 2019, there were 188 internal complaints and 33 citizen complaints, a trend that aligns with prior years. Complaints are referred to as “cases” by the Capitol Police. Other sources of complaints are anonymous complaints and referrals from outside law enforcement.
“All cases are investigated in order to substantiate the complaints,” Malecki said. “All substantiated policy violations involving USCP personnel result in the Department’s taking disciplinary action, up to and including termination and/or corrective training, as deemed necessary.”
The Capitol Police made two arrests the week of June 4-10. On June 7, an officer saw someone jump over the stone fence separating the Lower West Terrace from the West Front Lawn of the Capitol. The officer told the person to leave the restricted area and, after refusing to heed the order, the person was arrested and charged with unlawful entry.
On June 7, a Capitol Police officer saw someone spray-painting a wall on the West Front and a second officer stopped the person on the 100 block of First Street Northwest. Several cans of spray paint were found. The person was subsequently arrested and charged with defacing government property.