Threats Against Lawmakers Are Down, but Still Too High, Chief Says

January 18, 2023 by Dan McCue
Threats Against Lawmakers Are Down, but Still Too High, Chief Says
(Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The number of threat investigations opened by the U.S. Capitol Police was markedly down last year compared to 2020 and 2021, but remains far too high, according to the department’s chief.

Last year, the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section investigated a total of 7,501 cases, including cases involving direct threats to lawmakers and concerning statements.

The number for 2022 was sharply down from the 9,625 investigations opened in 2021, and the 8,613, undertaken in 2020.

However, it’s still well above the 6,955 investigations carried out in 2019, and considerably higher than the 5,206 and 3,939 investigations opened, respectively, in 2018 and 2017.

“The threats against members of Congress are still too high,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a written statement. 

“This has resulted in a necessary expansion of, not only our investigative capabilities, but our protection responsibilities as well. While that work is ongoing, continuing to decrease violent political rhetoric across the country is the best way to keep everyone safe,” he said.

Dr. Mario Scalora, the department’s consulting psychologist, said one reason the threat assessment section’s caseload has increased is because social media has provided some with a “false sense of anonymity” that emboldens them to make inflammatory and potentially threatening statements.

“This is not a problem we can only arrest our way out of,” Scalora said.

According to the Capitol Police, all members of Congress receive threats and concerning statements. The number of threats against both parties are similar.

“Despite the fact that we have so many cases, our agents do a fantastic job prioritizing the most serious threats,” said acting assistant chief of Intelligence and Protective Operations, Jason Bell.

For safety reasons, the USCP does not discuss the specific security measures that are in place to protect the members of Congress. However, the department can provide an overview of recent improvements.

In 2021, the USCP opened field offices to swiftly deal with threats where the department has the most threats against members of both parties — Florida and California. 

To better protect everyone in the legislative branch, the United States Capitol Police hired its own attorneys and detailed them to the Department of Justice to work as prosecutors who specialize in the unique types of threat cases faced by Congress. 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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