CONFLICTING PERSPECTIVES FOCUS ATTENTION ON RESPONSE STATEGIES TO
U. S. Capitol Police Officers Experienced Anger and Frustration
By Karen L. Bune
When approximately ten thousand protestors gathered recently in Washington, D. C.
and found their way to the U. S. Capitol, the scene was one of wall-to-wall people vociferously and vigorously expressing their anti-war sentiments. A large contingency of police officers was readily available to
deal with any disruptions or violations of the law.
Reportedly, however, U. S. Capitol Police
officers were instructed by police officials not to arrest any demonstrators during the weekend of January 27, 2007. A number of the protestors who obtained access to the Capitol grounds defaced the steps and sidewalk with graffiti that depicted statements such as, “All cops are pigs” and “You
can’t stop us.”
Police officers were reportedly angry that they were ordered to keep their “hands off” and were frustrated they were unable to do their jobs and arrest unruly protestors who were
engaging in destruction of property. Andy Maybo, Chairman of the U. S. Capitol Police Fraternal Order of Police stated, “The officers who did their job both
professionally and courageously were ordered to withdraw by their officials and let the demonstrators have the area where the graffiti was later discovered. We, as officers, take our duties and responsibilities very
seriously…But, we must follow the orders of our officials even when we may disagree with such orders.” One street officer commented, “it’s disheartening when these disrespectful acts are permitted to occur.”
A number of theories predominated on the street. Some contend that U. S. Capitol Police Chief, Philip Morse, ordered the
pull back because of a lack of sufficient police personnel and the failure to draft extra people for duty to handle the larger than expected group of protestors. Others contend that the protestors desired conflict
and were trying to engage the U. S. Capitol Police in a confrontation, but Chief Morse would not provide them the
opportunity to do so. An additional theory proffered on the street was that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, asked that the protestors not be arrested. Ms. Pelosi was out of the country at the time of the protest, and her office denies any role in the issuance of these orders.
Following these events, Senator Wayne Allard, the ranking Republican on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Capitol complex, expressed his concern and dismay over the lack of arrests. Allard
stated, “It is my understanding protestors were allowed to spray paint the Capitol steps and deface buildings around the area while Capitol Police were instructed to not arrest anyone engaging in these unlawful
acts…I am disgusted by these actions, and lack of efforts to protect public property.” Senator Allard met with U. S. Capitol Police Chief Morse and U. S. Senate sergeant-at-arms, Terrance W. Gainer, to discuss the events that transpired. Chief Morse
explained there was no order given to retreat or make no arrests. However, he did concede some shortcomings and acknowledged there is room for improvement and future changes in protocol.
meeting, Allard revealed a change in outlook and indicated he was satisfied with the explanations he was provided. He subsequently commented, “From what I can tell they worked in a responsible way.” Apparently,
however, not everyone is satisfied with the explanation, and Senator Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) has called for Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi
, to launch an investigation into the matter.
If the U. S. Capitol Police still had their horse-mounted unit that was, unfortunately, disbanded a couple
years ago by some shortsighted congressional members, the escalation of these events could have been curtailed. The horses could have been utilized as a highly effective mechanism for crowd control and to move the
multitude of protestors away from areas where they should not have been. Therefore, this recent episode should spur initiation of a renewed effort to demand the revival of the horse-mounted unit on Capitol Hill.
Undoubtedly, the official stance concerning policies and protocols that were implemented during these demonstrations differ from the street officers’ perspectives and observations. Each side contradicts the
other. Perhaps, the divergence can be blamed on power, politics, or misplaced priorities, but future strategies should be formulated to ensure that all parties are coordinated and fully prepared to deal with any
future critical incidents.
Copyright 2006 Karen L. Bune
***Karen L. Bune
is employed as a Victim Specialist in the State’s Attorney’s Office in Prince George’s County, Md. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax,
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 consultant and speaker in the victim services
field. Ms. Bune appears in the 2007 edition of “Marquis Who’s Who in the World.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE STORIES BY KAREN BUNE:
D. C. POLICE CHIEF RAMSEY’S DEPARTURE LEAVES LEGACY OF GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT
CHIEF MORSE ROLE ENHANCED BY GAINER APPOINTMENT AS US SENATE SGT AT
US BORDER PATROL AGENTS ARE THE VICTIMS
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GETS ATTENTION
U. S. PARK POLICE FORCE IN DISARRAY
D.C. POLICE COMMANDER SOLBERG’S APOLOGY UNNECESSARY
POLICE VICTIMIZATION HAS WIDE IMPACT
US CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF GAINER RESIGNS
PERSISTANCE PAYS OFF FOR MIMI
MAJOR LINDA DIXON FULFILLS PROMISE TO VICTIM
METRO DC POLICE GAY AND LESBIAN LIAISON UNIT
U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF GAINER
US CAPITOL POLICE MOUNTED UNIT DEALT A HARD BLOW
TRIBUTE TO CHIEF GAINER
CONGRESSWOMAN MCKINNEY - SUPERB EXAMPLE OF NON-VICTIM
RETURN TO NY COP HOMEPAGE