By Jackie Kucinich - 09/26/06 12:00 AM EDT
The U.S. Capitol Police have reassigned nearly 40 officers to patrol the Capitol Visitor Center’s (CVC) construction site, pulling a number of officers from positions all over the Capitol complex, according to sources familiar with the change.
The extra officers were pulled from patrol units and House and Senate sides of the complex, according to three sources with knowledge of the switch.
“[Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin] took from all these different divisions,” said one source, who was granted anonymity due to the security sensitivity of police positioning.
The source expressed concern that many officers were taken from the patrol division, leaving only a handful to respond to criminal activity around the Capitol complex.
Several sources expressed frustration about McGaffin’s comment to members of Congress that the breach was not due to a staffing or budgetary problem.
“He’s telling everyone it’s not a manpower or resource issue,” said a second source. “[Management] has cut posts, cut resources … McGaffin was told [prior to the breach] that [the police] don’t have enough people.”
In a statement Sept. 18, Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee which oversees the police, said, “Capitol Police Acting Chief Christopher M. McGaffin said that today’s security breach was not a funding or resources issue, but a hole in the security plan.”
A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police indicated that reassignment of personnel was part of a plan to adjust security and respond to some of the problems identified after a man penetrated Capitol Police security Sept. 18.
“Through the reassignment of administrative personnel that includes supervisors and officers (as well as through the use of overtime), sufficient personnel will be deployed to ensure that security requirements of the Capitol Complex are met,” said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.
At a preliminary hearing for defendant Carlos Greene, 20, on Friday, new details emerged about the morning he was able to drive a stolen sport utility vehicle into the Capitol complex, crash into a fountain and lead Capitol police officers on a four-floor chase inside the Capitol.
According to the testimony of Capitol Police Detective Nettie Watts, Greene sailed by the Capitol Police vehicle that was assigned to block in the CVC entrance, sideswiping the passenger side. Her testimony dispelled earlier reports that the officer’s vehicle had been “rammed” by Greene.
After crashing the vehicle into a “seat wall” surrounding a skylight on the construction site, Greene left the vehicle and ran up the stairs into the Capitol, ignoring an officer stationed nearby who told him to stop, according to Watts.
He entered the Capitol through a door on the east side of the Rotunda that was not guarded by the police. The area is undergoing massive renovations. This lack of coverage apparently allowed Greene to get into the Capitol easily.
After Greene got inside, Watts said, he stripped off his dark shirt and blue baseball cap on the third floor and began descending several floors, eventually arriving near the Senate Flag Office in the basement.
According to Watts, Greene then sought refuge inside the flag shop but was prevented by employees Isaac Livingston, Dennis Anthony and Karen Livingston.
After entering the shop, one of the male employees called to Greene, who ran toward him. The employee wrapped Greene in a “bear hug” and they engaged in a “violent” struggle, knocking items off the walls, according to Watts. The man, identified as “witness three” by Watts, was eventually able to lift Greene off the ground and move him into the hall where between four and six Capitol Police officers apprehended him. Greene is being jailed until a grand jury convenes to hear his case.