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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Threats to members of Congress have increased 400% in last six years

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Threats to members of Congress have increased 400% over the last six years, according to congressional testimony from the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. The increase in threats is happening as officers are experiencing burnout due to staffing shortages. 

“Low officer morale, and the public’s declining confidence in law enforcement, put a further strain on the organization. Hiring within law enforcement remains challenging in the post-pandemic environment, not just for the department but nation-wide, as men and women consider other options that provide a better work-life balance,” Chief Tom Manger said in congressional testimony. 

Because of the increased threats, Manger said his department needs to transform into a protective agency that can protect Congress in Washington, and additionally, lawmakers and their families around the country. 

But this will be difficult as officers continue to work mandatory overtime and have their days off canceled. As an example, agents in the Dignitary Protection Division are currently averaging 50 hours of overtime per pay period. 

“It is probably the issue that impacts morale the most in my opinion. Right after January 6, there were a host of issues that were impacting morale, but this is the one that we have not been able to get our arms around yet,” Manger said. 

There have been multiple attacks on lawmakers or their offices in recent years. The most recent happened Monday, May 15, at a district office of Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va. A man went into the office with a baseball bat and attacked two staff members. Police are still trying to determine a motive but the suspect has a history of mental illness and violent behavior. District offices are not protected by Capitol Police. 

There are currently 1,994 officers in the department. Manger says he needs 200 more officers at every level. In fact, he said he has delayed giving acting assistant chiefs full promotions, because that would trickle down and result in fewer officers on the line. 

The department has made attempts to retain officers, including salary increases, retention bonuses, student loan repayment plans and more. 

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