After two CQ Roll Call reports Friday called attention to safety lapses involving firearms in the Capitol and raised eyebrows among concerned members of Congress, police officials announced a new investigation — into how CQ Roll Call got the story.
U.S. Capitol Police said an independent body is investigating the source of a report of instances of guns left unattended in three occasions on the Capitol complex. "Recent media reports regarding three cases of U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers improperly handling their Department issued weapons in the Capitol Complex, should not have been released to the public, as these are law enforcement sensitive, internal personnel matters currently under investigation," USCP spokesperson Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider said in a statement. "At the request of Chief [Kim] Dine, the United States Capitol Police Office of Inspector General (IG) is investigating these matters. The IG is independent and reports directly to the United States Capitol Police Board."
Some lawmakers indicated Friday that it may be time to revisit whether such information should remain shielded from public scrutiny.
Oversight and Government Reform ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland said of the USCP's exemption from the Freedom of Information Act: "I think as long as we’re not threatening opening the door for people to do negative things by giving out information, then I think the public should know.”
On Friday, USCP said it was taking the situation seriously.
"The Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters," Schneider continued in her statement. "Each disciplinary matter is thoroughly investigated and reviewed, employees are held accountable for their conduct, and they are provided due process in adjudicating these matters. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee's record, and other required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment. As a matter of policy, the Department does not routinely discuss internal personnel matters, in order to maintain the integrity of the Department."
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin, the chairman of the Capitol Police Board, said the board would be informed of the results of the investigation.
“The United States Capitol Police Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General are reviewing each of these incidents and will be reporting all findings and recommendations to the Capitol Police Board,” Larkin said in a statement to CQ Roll Call Friday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest also commented on the situation at his press briefing Friday.
"Obviously this is something that has drawn the intention of investigators on Capitol Hill and it seems like a reasonable response," Earnest said. Asked about the decision to suspend one officer for six days, Earnest said, "The president thinks it's the responsibility of that oversight board to make that decision."
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