The U.S. Capitol Police force's plan to open field offices in California and Florida in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot has critics warning of government overreach "nightmare scenario."
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman announced Tuesday that the department would open field offices in San Francisco and Tampa. The offices, Pittman said, will “investigate threats to members of Congress,” and more regional offices will be announced in the future.
A Capitol Police spokesperson said the locations were picked because the two coastal states are where most threats originate, and the offices plan to work closely with area federal prosecutors. In May, the department said there had been a “107% increase in threats against Members compared to 2020.”
But plans to expand the department to a national level prompted fears of overreach.
“Any Capitol Police officer who steps foot in another state to set up a field office should be escorted immediately to the airport under threat of arrest. And the National Guard should be the ones escorting,” tweeted conservative radio host Jesse Kelly.
"The Capitol Police are opening up offices in the states, and will become an intelligence gathering agency like the FBI and NSA. This is a nightmare scenario, one that civil libertarians of all stripes should oppose," said libertarian columnist Robby Soave.
For House Republicans, the increase in security was ironic given the Democratic-backed “defund the police” movement.
“House Democrats passed a bill on partisan lines that spends $3.5 million on capitol security per member of Congress,” Republican Rep. Indiana Jim Banks told the Washington Examiner in a statement. “When it comes to their own safety, House Democrats know that more police funding works. I wish Democrats started acting like regular Americans’ lives matter as much as Members of Congress. For now, it’s 'Defund the Police for thee but not for me.'“
In May, the House passed a $1.9 billion Capitol Police budget but only by one vote. Members of the far-left “Squad” in the Democratic Party said they took issue with a bill that “prioritizes more money for a broken system that has long upheld & protected the white supremacist violence we saw” on Jan. 6.
The Senate has not yet taken action on the Capitol Police security supplemental bill but could include a boost in funding in other appropriations.
Other steps the Capitol has taken in the wake of the riot include beefing up equipment and training and “wellness services.” Two new support dogs, named Lila and Filip, will join the force to “spread the message of wellness by helping engage the wellness team with our employees,” officials said.
Beefing up some Capitol police activities comes as the last fencing erected around the Capitol is set to come down as soon as Friday.
Meanwhile, officers on the Capitol Police force face low morale, with more than 75 officers reportedly leaving since January.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks