The U.S. Capitol Police: Brief Background




INSIGHTi
The U.S. Capitol Police: Brief Background
January 12, 2021
U.S. Capitol Police (USCP)
The U.S. Capitol Police is a department within the legislative branch with security, protection, and
administrative responsibilities. The USCP is responsible for law enforcement and security within the
Capitol Complex, including the U.S. Capitol building, the Capitol Visitor Center, Capitol grounds, the
House and Senate office buildings, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Capitol Police buildings, Library of
Congress buildings, and adjacent grounds.
The USCP performs these roles in coordination with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms. The House
and Senate Sergeants at Arms are charged with maintaining order in their chambers, and they each
perform a number of law enforcement, security-related, decorum, and protocol duties. The House and
Senate have each had an elected Sergeant at Arms since 1789.
Capitol Police Board
The Capitol Police Board is comprised of the Senate and House Sergeants at Arms, the Architect of the
Capitol, and the chief of the Capitol Police, who serves as an ex-officio member.
Pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §1901, “the purpose of the Capitol Police Board is to oversee and support the
Capitol Police in its mission and to advance coordination between the Capitol Police and the Sergeant at
Arms of the House of Representatives and the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate, in their
law enforcement capacities, and the Congress.” The Board is responsible for the design, instal ation, and
maintenance of security systems for the Capitol buildings and grounds, under the direction of the
Committee on House Administration and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration (2 U.S.C.
§§1964-1965).
Funding and Staffing
The USCP is funded in the annual legislative branch appropriations acts.
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Table 1. U.S. Capitol Police Funding
(in thousands of dol ars)
FY12
FY13
FY14
FY15
FY16
FY17
FY18
FY19
FY20
FY21
$340,137 $321,348 $338,459 $347,959 $375,000 $393,300 $426,500 $456,308 $464,341 $515,541
Sources: P.L. 112-74, P.L. 113-6 (as reduced by sequestration and a rescission), P.L. 113-76, P.L. 113-235, P.L. 114-113,
P.L. 115-31, P.L. 115-141, P.L. 115-244, and P.L. 116-260. The FY2020 total does not include the $12.0 mil ion provided for
salaries in P.L. 116-136. The Capitol Police were also provided authority to transfer funding to the “general expenses”
account without the approval requirement provided in 2 U.S.C. §1907a.
Since FY2003, appropriations for the police have been contained in two accounts—a salaries account,
which includes overtime and benefits, and a general expenses account, which funds “motor vehicles,
communications and other equipment, security equipment and instal ation, uniforms, weapons, supplies,
materials, training, medical services, forensic services,” and other services and programs. The USCP can
transfer funding between the accounts with “the approval of the Committees on Appropriations of the
House of Representatives and Senate” (2 U.S.C. §1907a). FY2021 funding for these accounts includes
1. Salaries—$424.4 mil ion (+12.0% from the $379.1 mil ion provided for FY2020, not
including $12.0 mil ion in emergency supplemental appropriations provided in P.L. 116-
136).

2. General expenses—$91.1 mil ion (+6.9% from the $85.3 mil ion provided for FY2020).
This funding is slightly less than 10% of the $5.304 bil ion provided for legislative branch activities for
FY2021 (P.L. 116-260, enacted December 27, 2020).
In addition, $45.99 mil ion was provided for FY2021 for the Architect of the Capitol account for Capitol
Police buildings and grounds.
These totals do not include funding for other entities that provide security services for the House and
Senate, including the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms and other House and Senate offices with
security responsibilities, including cybersecurity, business continuity, and disaster recovery.
According to its Human Capital Strategic Plan, USCP staffing included 1,879 sworn and 370 civilian
employees as of September 19, 2020.
Appointment of Chief
2 U.S.C. §1901 states: “The Capitol Police shal be headed by a Chief who shal be appointed by the
Capitol Police Board and shal serve at the pleasure of the Board.”
Yogananda D. Pittman was designated the Acting Chief of Police/Assistant Chief of Police for Protective
and Intel igence Operations by Capitol Police Board Order 21.04 on January 8, 2021.
Previous chiefs appointed in the last 20 years include the following:
 Steven A. Sund, appointed effective June 13, 2019, resigned January 8, 2021.
 Matthew R. Verderosa, appointment effective March 20, 2016.
 Kim Dine, appointment effective December 17, 2012.
 Phil ip D. Morse, Sr., appointment effective October 30, 2006.
 Terrance W. Gainer, appointment effective June 2002.


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Capitol Police Powers and Duties
The duties and responsibilities of the Capitol Police have developed over time and are set forth in several
sources, chief among them the U.S. Code (in particular, but not limited to, Chapter 29, subchapter II, of
Title 2). Additional authorities may be found in policies, regulations, and guidelines issued by the Senate
Committee on Rules and Administration and the Committee on House Administration; the Rules of the
House of Representatives and Senate; policies adopted by the Capitol Police Board; and custom and
precedent. Additional duties of the Capitol Police may be defined by the Committees on Appropriations in
reports accompanying the annual appropriations bil s.
In addition to responsibilities on the Capitol campus, the Capitol Police also provide protection for
Members of the House and Senate leadership, protect additional Members based on a risk-based analysis,
collaborate with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to assess Members’ state and district office
security, coordinate with local law enforcement regarding threats to state and district offices, and provide
protection for off-campus events, including the presidential nominating conventions. On February 11,
2020, then-Chief Steven A. Sund testified that “Since Calendar Year 2017, the number of threats [the
USCP has] investigated has increased by more than 75 percent.”
Sources of Oversight
Oversight of the Capitol Police has been provided by a number of entities.
The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Committee on House Administration have
jurisdictional oversight over many congressional security-related activities. The Senate Committee on
Rules and Administration has announced joint oversight efforts with the Senate Committee on Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs regarding the recent breach of the U.S. Capitol security. The
Committee on House Administration has also announced plans to conduct oversight.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees, through their legislative branch subcommittees,
provide oversight of funding, administration, operations, and policies, through the annual appropriations
hearings, reports, and bil language. They may also conduct additional investigations (see recent House
and Senate statements).
Additional committees have historical y also examined various aspects of Capitol security.
House and Senate leadership may also provide oversight and direction on matters pertaining to their
respective chambers.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has performed evaluations of various aspects of USCP
administration and management operations and the Capitol Police Board.
The USCP also has a statutorily established Inspector General.
Line of Duty Deaths
The USCP announced the death of USCP Officer Brian D. Sicknick on January 7, 2021, and the off-duty
death of USCP Officer Howard Liebengood on January 10, 2021.
Prior to 2021, the USCP saw four officers die in the line of duty, including two officers kil ed during an
intrusion in 1998.
Following the 1998 shootings, the USCP established the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
The provision of additional benefits, including death gratuities, is addressed in 2 U.S.C. §1907(e)(2).


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For information on additional benefits that might be available when an officer dies in the line of duty, see
CRS Report R45327, Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) and Public Safety Officers’ Educational
Assistance (PSOEA) Programs
;
and CRS Report R42107, The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act
(FECA): Workers’ Compensation for Federal Employees.


Author Information

Ida A. Brudnick

Specialist on the Congress




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