Capitol Police files: Disorderly conduct in the nation's capital

It may seem that Capitol Police officers spend most of their time guarding doors or directing tourists, but they also have daily encounters with umbrella-wielding protesters, drug-toting citizens and reckless drivers.

The force protects thousands of people who work and visit the Capitol every day, and as such, incidents vary widely. In a review of a year’s worth of police reports, The Hill found officers who have wrested knives out of criminals’ hands, apprehended bike thieves and extradited persons wanted for crimes. The force, which numbers 1,800 officers, does much more than metal-detector screening on a daily basis.

The most common incidents are traffic stops, which often lead to other discoveries, such as a driver’s suspended license, an outstanding warrant for arrest or drunken driving.

The following are several of the past year’s notable escapades, as detailed in the police force’s incident reports.

Metal knuckles

May 14, 2009 — At approximately 11 a.m. on what records show was an otherwise ordinary Thursday, officers stopped a man attempting to enter the Senate Hart Office Building. As he was passing through the security checkpoint at the building’s entrance, police informed him that his belt buckle was a prohibited weapon. The buckle was in the shape and had the weight of a $15 pair of metal knuckles. The man was placed under arrest, charged with possessing a prohibited weapon and transported to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Disorderly conduct

Oct. 15, 2009 — Officers received a call about a man dressed in all black clothing in the upper Senate Park. People had complained that the man, who was black, was shouting racial slurs at passers-by. As a Capitol Police officer approached, the man continued screaming slurs at people on the streets and pointed a pink umbrella at the officer. The officer reached to grab the pink umbrella “due to officer safety concerns,” but the man pulled it away and began swinging it at the officer. “A struggle ensued,” according to police reports, and the man further resisted arrest, striking the officer with the umbrella. Eventually the man was subdued, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and failure to obey a police command. He was taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Possession of marijuana

May 16, 2009 — At around 10:30 a.m. a man came through a Capitol Visitor Center metal detector and security screening. The man placed several items, including a small gray container, into the plastic bowl used for loose items. An officer saw the gray container and asked the man what was in it. “Marijuana,” the man responded, according to police reports. After inspecting it, the officer found a green, leafy substance inside, and a drug field test was conducted on the scene. Just before 11 a.m., the results came back positive for marijuana. The drugs were heat-sealed in an evidence bag in front of the man, who was then arrested and transported to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Traffic accident and DWI

Jan. 9, 2009 — Just after midnight, a Capitol Police officer heard a loud crash on Independence Avenue SE. As the officer approached the scene, he noticed damage to the driver’s side of a car parked outside of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson building.

Meanwhile, down the block, a second officer stopped a black Acura sport utility vehicle after noticing that its passenger door and side mirror were damaged. The officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from the driver’s breath. The officer then conducted a field sobriety test on the driver, a 34-year-old technology manager from Virginia. The man showed “numerous signs of impairment,” according to the report. He had a blood alcohol content level of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the District of Columbia’s 0.08 percent legal limit. The officer arrested and charged the man with driving while intoxicated. He took him to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

The owner of the struck car was contacted shortly after the traffic stop, and police took her name and insurance information, saying they had the man in custody who damaged her car.

Fugitive from justice

Jan. 9, 2009 —
Making his security-check rounds of the Capitol Hill neighborhood just before 3:30 p.m., a Capitol Police officer observed a parked and unoccupied van near the rear gate of the Little Scholars Child Development Center building at 601 East Capitol St. SE. The officer ran a check on the vehicle and found that it was not registered. When the vehicle’s driver returned, the officer conducted a background check and found he had an outstanding arrest warrant for larceny in Prince George’s County, Md. The county police department confirmed the warrant was valid and authorized the extradition. The man was arrested and taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Attempted theft

April 5, 2009 — A 24-year-old woman flagged down a Capitol Police officer by Union Station around 6 p.m. She told the officer that a man was trying to steal her Giant FCR bicycle, worth hundreds of dollars, by cutting the lock with a pair of pliers. A colleague joined the officer and together they responded to the scene, where the woman positively identified the man. After questioning him, police arrested the man, charged him with attempted theft and took him to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Assault on a police officer

April 5, 2009 — Just before noon, two Capitol Police officers responded to a call regarding an assault with a knife at a nonprofit organization, DC Central Kitchen, several blocks from the Capitol on Second Street NW. The first officer successfully disarmed the suspect, but when the second officer arrived, he saw the man hitting his fellow officer on the back of his head with a flashlight. The man was arrested and taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.
Disruption of Congress

July 13, 2009 — On the first day of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearing, Capitol Police responded to a disturbance. Upon arriving at a hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building, the officers witnessed a woman, later identified as Norma McCorvey, or “Jane Roe” from the famous 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion case, yelling in a “loud, boisterous” voice, “What about the children?” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) banged his gavel and called for order. Capitol Police arrested her and another woman and took them to headquarters to be processed.