The Complete Guide to What We Know (And Don’t Know) About the U.S. Capitol Police

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) has a critical mission of protecting Congress — Members, employees, and visitors — so constitutionally mandated business can be carried out in a safe and open environment. USCP has a massive $464 million budget for FY 2020 and 2,514 employees, of whom 2,060 are sworn personnel. By comparison, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is funded at $556 million and has 3,851 sworn officers.

Unlike the vast majority of local police forces, the USCP provides little public information about its activities. The Capitol Police is part of the Legislative Branch, which means it’s under no obligation to answer records requests and is not subject to Freedom of Information of law. Additionally, the department does not publish annual reports on its activities; does not publish reports from its oversight body, the Capitol Police Board, nor the USCP Inspector General; does not proactively publish its annual statistical summary of complaints drawn from Office of Professional Responsibility records; and only began in December 2018 publishing sparse information concerning its weekly arrests.

To help illuminate the operations and disclosures from the agency, our team has spent significant time over the past several years gathering information, including statements of disbursements, jurisdiction and responsibilities, and arrest report data. We also have written letters to the department requesting further information disclosures and submitted testimony to the Leg. Branch Subcommittee requesting heightened transparency regarding USCP arrest information, press releases, and announcements. 

Below is a compilation of all of our work and resources around the USCP. At the bottom is recent press coverage from Roll Call. 

USCP Statements of Disbursements 

Federal law requires the Chief of USCP to submit a detailed, itemized Statement of Disbursements to the House Clerk no later than 60 days after the last day of each semiannual period, but these documents are not always publicly available. These are filed with Congress but not available on a congressional website. 

Only recently have we discovered that some of these statements are online, so we haven’t had a change to comprehensively examine them. Our team has requested USCP to fill the gaps three times, but the statements have not been provided to us. Moreover, none of these documents take advantage of spreadsheets, instead publishing the tables as a large PDF file which makes analyzing this information time consuming and difficult. 

A letter from the Director, Office of Financial Management, United States Capitol Police, transmitting Statement Of Disbursements of the U.S. Capitol Police for the period April 1, 2019 through September 30, 2019, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. 1910(a)

STATEMENT OF DISBURSEMENTS OF THE U.S. CAPITOL POLICE FOR THE PERIOD OCTOBER 1, 2017 THROUGH MARCH 31, 2018

STATEMENT OF DISBURSEMENTS OF THE U.S. CAPITOL POLICE FOR THE PERIOD OCTOBER 1, 2010 THROUGH MARCH 31, 2011

STATEMENT OF DISBURSEMENTS OF THE U.S. CAPITOL POLICE FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 1, 2008 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2008

STATEMENT OF DISBURSEMENTS OF THE U.S. CAPITOL POLICE FOR THE PERIOD APRIL 1, 2007 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2007

Reports and Blog Posts

Mapped Out: Capitol Police Arrests 

Release Date: June 10, 2020

Summary: A visualization of 675 disclosed USCP arrests between January 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020.

The U.S. Capitol Police: What A Year Of Data Tells Us About The Congressional Police Force 

Release Date: February 2020 

Summary: A comprehensive examination of the USCP funding, activities, arrest records, and disclosures. We found that USCP has seen a 288% increase in funding since 1994, the vast majority of arrests occur outside of “business hours”, and most arrests are made in “extended jurisdiction”, meaning outside the main Capitol campus. 

The Undermining of Congress 

Release Date: February 17, 2020 

Summary: This report analyzed the budget trends within the Legislative Branch over the last 25 year and concluded that the Capitol Police budget now comprises almost 10% of the Legislative Branch Budget. To view the underlying data used in this analysis, see 25 Years of Legislative Branch Appropriations. Note: values in the article are adjusted to 2019 dollars.

Exempt from FOIA, US legislative support agencies follow uneven transparency standards

Release Date: February 6, 2020

Summary: This article discusses the findings of a Demand Progress fall 2019 questionnaire sent out to each Legislative Branch support agency asking how they handle requests for records and disclose information to the public without requests. Findings demonstrated that support offices like CBO and GAO are quite proactive and open when it comes to disclosures and transparency, while USCP, AOC, and the Library of Congress are not. 

The Long Arm of the U.S. Capitol Police

Release Date: August 7, 2019

Summary: A report that examines jurisdiction and responsibilities of the USCP on Capitol grounds, as well as its relationship with DC’s MPD. It discusses the USCP’s “extended jurisdiction”, and how both PDs work to manage the overlapping territory. 

Capitol Police Arrests: What Department Data Does and Doesn’t Tell Us

Release Date: July 15, 2019

Summary: A comprehensive analysis of USCP arrest data from the first six months of the department publicly disclosing arrest summaries online, complete with visual representations of the arrest trends. 

The Changing Nature of Misconduct Complaints Against Capitol Police Employees

Release Date: July 15, 2019

Summary: Our team obtained ten years’ worth of reports summarizing complaints against USCP employees and found that total complaint cases increased by nearly 70% since 2009 while internal complaint cases more than doubled since 2016.

A Look at the US Capitol Police

Release Date: March 11, 2019 

Summary: An article that shines light on the mission, funding, and operations of the USCP, complete with arrest record trends. The article notes that many USCP arrest summaries include the phrase “incidents leading to arrest for criminal acts”, but the department withholds reports accompanying arrests “due to security concerns”. 

Capitol Police to Publish Some Arrest Information

Release Date: December 20, 2018

Summary: An article discussing USCP’s announcement that they will publish their weekly arrest summaries online each Wednesday starting on January 2, 2019. While USCP did not give a reason for publishing the arrest reports, we hoped that our previous inquiries and letters had something to do with it.

Letters and Testimony 

Letter to Congressional Lawmakers Regarding Capitol Police Transparency Concerns and Recommendations

Release Date: June 8, 2020

Summary: A letter to House and Senate Members expressing concerns regarding inadequate accountability for USCP and provides a series of recommendations for Congress to take to improve transparency within the department. The letter stresses that USCP acts both in a law enforcement capacity as well as a federal agency and should be held to the same standards. 

Letter Requesting USCP Statements of Disbursement for the Last Five Years

Release Date: April 29, 2020

Summary: We sent a letter via email to the USCP Public Information Officer requesting USCP Statements of Disbursement for the last five years since the information is not available on any government website. The letter did not receive a response. 

Testimony of Amelia Strauss, Policy Associate, Demand Progress Before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch for Fiscal Year 2021

Release Date: February 2020 

Summary: The testimony urged the Subcommittee to encourage the Capitol Police to publish arrest information online as a digital spreadsheet – in structured data format – that allows everyone to track arrests by date and time, arrest location, charges issued, number of individuals arrested, case file number, and more.

Questions for the U.S. Capitol Police

Release Date: July 17, 2019 

Summary: Our team sent a series of questions to USCP after examining the department’s operations and transparency from January 2019 to July 2019. 

Letter to Police Chief Verderosa

Release Date: February 14, 2019 

Summary: A letter addressed to USCP Chief  urging the department to publish its guidelines and procedures for the public and news media access to “public documents” managed by the USCP Reports Processing Section. The letter did not receive a response. 

Press Coverage:

Capitol Police, a department shrouded in secrecy Chris Marquette, Roll Call, June 15, 2020

Campus Notebook: How many complaints have been filed against Capitol Police officers? Chris Marquette, Roll Call, June 12, 2020 

Capitol Police must now wear masks when in close proximity to others Chris Marquette, Roll Call, May 8, 2020 

Campus Notebook: Nine Capitol Police officers have tested positive for coronavirus Chris Marquette, Roll Call, April 10, 2020

Four Capitol Police officers test positive for novel coronavirus Chris Marquette, Roll Call, April 2, 2020

Two Capitol Police officers have tested positive for coronavirus Chris Marquette, Roll Call, March 31, 2020

Full Capitol Police force not receiving coronavirus tests Chris Marquette, Roll Call, March 23, 2020

Capitol Police, Architect of the Capitol both get boost under proposed budget Chris Marquette, Roll Call, February 10, 2020

Staffers gripe about lack of communication during Capitol lockdown Kathryn Lyons and Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 26, 2019

Fired Capitol Police officer loses sex discrimination lawsuit Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 19, 2019

Capitol Police sexual discrimination trial in the hands of jury Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 14, 2019

Capitol Police officials say former officer deserved to be fired despite procedural mistakes Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 14, 2019

High-ranking Capitol Police official admits he circumvented protocol to fire female officer Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 14, 2019

Capitol Police sexual discrimination trial unveils male officers sleeping on the job and a lack of protocol with new employees Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 6, 2019

Former Capitol Police chief acknowledges ‘systemic failure’ in supervising new officers Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 5, 2019

Campus Notebook: Capitol Police sexual discrimination trial set for Monday Chris Marquette, Roll Call, November 1, 2019

Threats against members increasing, Capitol Police chief says Chris Marquette, Roll Call, July 16, 2019

Capitol Police arrest 18 protesting ICE, treatment of detained migrants Chris Marquette, Roll Call, July 9, 2019

Capitol Police crackdown on press escalates to physical altercation Katherine Tully-McManus, Roll Call, February 15, 2019

Capitol Police weapon left unattended in Capitol bathroom, again Katherine Tully-McManus, Roll Call, February 27, 2019