Nick Arama at Red State has written an article expressing serious concerns about recent developments concerning the United States Capitol Police. Arama is especially concerned with the planned use by the USCP of military supplied surveillance equipment:
We previously reported on the troubling expansion of satellite offices of the Capitol Police being planned across the country.
Unlike other federal government-related police which are subject to FOIA and part of the executive branch, the Capitol Police are under the control of Congress and not subject to FOIA. So, basically you have a police force controlled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spreading out across the country.
I’m not a conspiracy fan, but you don’t have to be to find that problematic.
Now, there’s more that is setting off the alarm bells in my head.
Not only will they be setting up across the country, starting first with offices in California and Florida, but they will have military surveillance equipment as they become “an intelligence based protective agency,” ...
I'll readily admit that I found this problematic enough to do a bit of research on the USCP--pretty minimal research, actually. First off, I looked the organization up in Wikipedia, wanting to know the origins of this agency. I learned this:
The history of the United States Capitol Police dates back to 1801 when Congress moved from the city of Philadelphia to the newly constructed Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. At the time, Congress appointed one watchman to protect the building and Congressional property.
The police were formally created by Congress in 1828 following the assault on John Adams II, the son of John Quincy Adams, in the Capitol rotunda. The United States Capitol Police had as its original duty the provision of security for the United States Capitol.
Its mission has expanded to provide the congressional community and its visitors with a variety of security services. These services are provided through the use of a variety of specialty support units, a network of foot and vehicular patrols, fixed posts, a full-time Containment and Emergency Response Team (CERT), K-9, a Patrol/Mobile Response Division and a full-time Hazardous Devices and Hazardous Materials Sections.
I also learned that the USCP has its own Office of Inspector General ()OIG--a "legislative agency", which reports to the Capitol Police Board, the governing body for the USCP. Again, all this was totally new to me.
Next I looked up the Capitol Police Board, to learn more about its governing structure. I reproduce here the entire entry, because it pertains directly to Arama's statement that the USCP is "a police force controlled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi". It appears that that assertion is simplistic at best:
The Capitol Police Board is the body that governs the United States Capitol Police. It was established in 1873, and today consists of three voting members: the Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate, and the Architect of the Capitol. Additionally, the chief of the Capitol Police serves ex officio as a non-voting member. The chairmanship of the board alternates annually between the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms.
All of this was news to me, I freely confess. I've never had any reason to learn about this previously. Finally, with regard to the jurisdiction of the USCP, I looked up the enabling statute, which I reproduce in its entirety:
So, I conclude that the expansion of the USCP to satellite offices throughout the United States is authorized, more or less in the same way that the protective function of the US Secret Service is. Designating the USCP as "intelligence based" seems to accord with the responsibility of the Capitol Police Board to "provide such protection as the Board may determine necessary".
On the other hand, I would express the concern that the governing structure of the USCP appears to me to be antiquated and entirely inadequate to the new and expanded functions of the agency. These developments do, or so I would argue, threaten a politicization of the USCP that it has hitherto avoided.
UPDATE: It seems that I'm getting pushback on this post--although no commenters really take issue with the substance of what I wrote.
Just to be clear--I'm not saying the expansion of the USCP to opening offices in the states and acquiring surveillance equipment is a good idea. The House GOP, at least, is on record as considering it a bad idea--they voted unanimously against this development, but without (as far as I know) suggesting that these developments are unlawful. And that's what I'm saying: nothing that's being done appears to be unlawful.
Please note in that regard: The USCP was formed long ago, in 1828. The governing statute dates back to 1946. It presumes some degree of intelligence gathering, such as any LE organization undertakes, in order to decide if any members of Congress require protection.
Further, the law specifies a nationwide jurisdiction, even though the establishment of satellite offices is a new thing.
The huge enlarging of the USCP budget does not involve any expansion of its authority. That is still limited by the law that I've included above in full. That's why I pasted the entire law into this post.
The GOP can remedy any part or all of this if they regain control. I recommend not holding your breath, however.
Commenter Bebe has pasted in lengthy excerpts of articles that allege that Congress has set up "another unaccountable intelligence agency." This is not correct. There is no intelligence agency in the United States that is "unaccountable." All are accountable to Congress through the normal oversight process and, to some extent, to the Courts. If these agencies are not held accountable in this manner, our Constitution specifies elections as the only recourse. I'm sorry--I didn't write the Constitution and have no influence when it comes to possible amendments to the Constitution. Unlike me, We The People seem not to see any need for reform. Nevertheless, I repeat: It is simply not correct to say that a new and unaccountable intelligence agency has been formed. The USCP is still subject to the same law as cited above. As long as the voting public is apathetic about such matters or continues in thrall to romantic notions of "American exceptionalism," I see no likelihood of reform.
Commenter Daddy29 maintains that the USCP has been politicized for "quite some time"--which by his accounting seems to mean: since January 6, 2021. IMO, six months or so doesn't qualify as "quite some time", especially with regard to an organization that has been in existence since 1828.