MERGING POLICE AGENCIES ON CAPITOL HILL
The complexity involved in the planning and development of an eventual merger of the U. S. Library of Congress Police (LOCP) and the United States Capitol Police (USCP)
is analogous to blending two ready- made families into a workable and satisfying marriage. The concept of integrating these two law enforcement agencies began over four years ago with the efforts of Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and will likely become a reality within the next 18
is responsible for the security of the 276-acre Capitol Complex and the protection of Congress, their staff, and 19 buildings, national treasures, and visitors as well as traffic regulation within the grounds of the Capitol. The
provide protection for the Library of Congress staff, congressional and public visitors, national treasures, and guard six buildings—two of which are located within the USCP’s primary jurisdiction, according to a report by the U. S. General Accounting Office.
“With the merger of the LOCP into the USCP, the standard of security and law enforcement services currently provided at the House and Senate office
buildings will be extended to the LOC buildings. Under the legislation, the LOC buildings located on the Capitol complex will be considered Capitol buildings and grounds,” says United States Capitol Police Chief Philip Morse. He continues, “Through these efforts, the USCP and LOCP will achieve the Congressional vision for seamless, unified law enforcement and security operations with unified command and control of the Capitol complex. To this end, the USCP, with the LOCP, will continue to protect Congress, its legislative process, as well as staff and visitors to the Capitol complex. Security on the compound will be enhanced as we protect and secure Congress so it can fulfill its constitutional responsibilities in a safe and open environment.”
The implementation plan for the merger of the USCP and the LOC states the merger will result in improved intelligence gathering and dissemination, uniform security standards, consistent response to
emergencies, compliance with Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) and preliminary investigation requirements, better training and equipment for officers, readily available and highly trained specialty unit response, and a
consolidated dispatch system. “We need to care for those who have labored in the current configuration and then strengthen their ability to be better, to do better,” says Terrance
W. Gainer, U. S. Senate Sergeant-at-arms and former U. S. Capitol Police Chief.
Though the ideas behind the merger appear sensible on the surface, they present a number of issues that have stirred
controversy among the troops and sparked lively debate. Though discussion is still ongoing in the planning and implementation process, the LOCP are concerned about some of the issues and foresee a number of
negatives that they believe put them at a disadvantage by integrating their force with the USCP. An LOC police officer states, “The negatives are loss in seniority, being put on probation again, and having to re-qualify for a job that I have been doing for seven years. I myself oppose the merger/transfer due to lack of fairness and it being forced upon me adversely affecting my occupational future—not knowing, day to day, what my future holds as a federal police officer.”
Michael Hutchins, Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police for the Library of Congress Labor Committee, states, “There is great dissatisfaction and even anger at the way and the means for the actual transitioning of officers. The language in the proposed bill states, “transfer” which gives rise to the concept of a ‘Grandfather Clause’ which, to date, has not been entertained. The conveyance that on the date of transfer all seniority will be lost, to begin again on your date of appointment with USCP. During the mandatory training phase (10 weeks) we will be in a probationary period backed by wording in the proposed legislation stating that the Chief of the USCP will have final authority”. He continues, “The
bill, currently as written, gives the Chief the sole authority to determine who does or does not meet the USCP standards without providing for a mechanism for appeal and does not provide for any mechanism for
negotiations between the Chief and the two labor committees regarding the consolidation of the existing collective bargaining agreements. LOCP is required to forfeit service creditable under existing
retirement plans once they elect to participate in the Capitol plan.”
Mandatory retirement age for the USCP is age 57 with 20 years of service
. In contrast, the LOCP do not have a mandatory retirement age and are able to work into later years provided they pass an annual physical. Though the details concerning retirement issues are still being
formulated into final form, LOCP officers are disturbed by the intention that if they have already met the mandated age requirement, they will be placed in civilian positions until they accrue the required number of
years of service for retirement
Many of them want to continue to serve as police officers, despite their age, provided they meet the medical requirement; they believe the new conditions that will be levied upon them are potentially discriminatory in nature.
“The officers believe their careers are in jeopardy because of the Capitol Police refusal to carry dual retirement systems. They also will not entertain a Grandfather provision to allow those
officers of the library to continue to serve as police officers until they obtain the minimum annuity allowed for their officers. The Chief also wants every LOC officer to go back on probation as a government
employee, even though all LOC police officers have served their probation period and have passed their tenured period of five years of service as federal employees,” comments another LOC officer.
Recognizing the various degrees of concern, USCP Chief Morse states, “One of the most important facets during
the merger is keeping employees informed during the process.
This is accomplished through information sharing, utilizing the chain of command, and town hall meetings. As we move through this transition, we continue to seek the most equitable resolution to any challenge or issue that may arise.”
One of the key issues involved in the idea behind this merger, Hutchins acknowledges, is “seamless security for the Capitol Hill complex and one standard
operating procedure for policing the entire area.” Describing the concept of seamless security, Chief Morse says, “Since the LOC buildings are situated
within the capitol complex and are connected to the Capitol Visitors Center and House buildings by tunnels, having a seamless capability to detect, deter, and respond to threats will increase our overall security
posture on the Hill and will result in a safer environment for members, staff, and visitors. “ Sergeant-at-arms Gainer acknowledges the merger would enable
better preparation for emergency response and says, “The LOC has substantially less assets than the USCP; for instance, hazmat, explosive capabilities, canines.
The merger will leverage the strengths of USCP with the needs of LOCP.” He continues, “We need to care for those who have labored in the current configuration and then strengthen their ability to be better,
to do better.”
The merger of these two federal law enforcement agencies is a major endeavor that
involves blending diversified interests into one cohesive entity; it is a task requiring significant
responsibility to ensure that the goal of seamless security is embraced with the highest level of objectivity and fairness for all involved.
The end result must be a merger that results in a combined effort of enhanced protection of the United States Capitol, the Library of Congress
, and adjacent areas on Capitol Hill.
Copyright © 2007 Karen L. Bune
***Karen L. Bune is employed as a Victim Specialist in the State’s
Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and at Marymount University
in Arlington, Va. Ms. Bune is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and a Diplomate of the Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She is a nationally recognized speaker and
consultant, and she appears in the 2007 edition of “Marquis Who’s Who in the World.” She received the 2007 Notable Alumni Award from the Dept. of Public Affairs, American University, Washington,
D. C. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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