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)
Reports and Blog Posts
Release Date: June 10, 2020
Summary: A visualization of 675 disclosed USCP arrests between January 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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