Capitol Hill police are fed up with federal lawmakers’ July 4 and Memorial Day parties.
In a new letter published by CNN on Tuesday night, leaders of the Capitol Hill Police Board strongly urged top Democrats and Republicans to rein in their drunken “post-concert holiday receptions” in the Capitol. Indeed, the police letter makes a not-so-subtle reference to prohibited “liquids” and “coolers containing liquids” being allowed inside the building.
“[T]here are many items which are strictly prohibited inside the Capitol — such as liquids — which credentialed staff with offices in the Capitol are permitted to bring into the building. However, on the evening of the concerts, numerous guests of staff arrive at the Capitol with bags and coolers containing liquids. These liquids are are very frequently sanctioned as ‘staff property’ and allowed to bypass the regulation to expedite the security screening process,” the police said in the letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
According to CNN, last year’s July 4 celebrations caused the Capitol to be “overrun with heavy drinking party-goers” and “drunken revelers wandering the historic hallways.” A congressional source told the outlet that there have been “falls and injuries that were blamed on excessive drinking, ” and someone only narrowly avoided a potentially “catastrophic” fall from a balcony.
“The enormous growth in the sheer number of people inside the Capitol on the evening of both concerts has made enforcement of the basic rules of decorum extremely difficult to manage or enforce,” the police said. “It is especially difficult to monitor and enforce restrictions on the House Floor, private hallways and Leadership and Committee offices. Due to the large number of unescorted guests inside the Capitol, it is virtually impossible for Capitol Police to maintain the integrity of all private areas and offices within the building.”
The Capitol Police Board said the security costs for the July 4 and Memorial Day concerts and post-concert partying have also gotten out of control. For Capitol Police alone, the board said, overtime costs ran higher than $US735,000 for last year’s events. And this figure doesn’t even include other agencies like the Visitor Services and the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services, which were also required to run up employees’ overtime hours.
“The Capitol Police Board Police Board review also helped to verify that the scope and scale of the concerts has increased dramatically in recent years, and as a result, administrative costs to the Capitol Police for both the Memorial Day and July 4 concerts have increased. In 2014, Capitol Police used a combined 12,174 hours in overtime during setup, rehearsals, and the concerts themselves,” the letter said.
The board recommended a number of changes, including changing the locations of some of the receptions to more secure areas and limiting other areas of Capitol to congressional employees only.
View the full letter below:
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