Capitol Police appoints its first inspector general

The U.S. Capitol Police Board has appointed Carl Hoecker to serve as the first inspector general of the force.

Hoecker was appointed July 10, several months later than stipulated by the legislation that created the position, and will report directly to the U.S. Capitol Police Board.

The Board is comprised of the Senate and House Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sergeant Kimberly Schneider outlined the inspector general’s duties.

“As the Inspector General, Mr. Hoecker is charged with the duty to conduct and supervise audits, inspections, and internal investigations relating to the programs and operations of the United States Capitol Police.”

The position was created in the 2006 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill after several House appropriators agreed that the U.S. Capitol Police needed more supervision.

The House report accompanying the 2006 bill stated that the Office of the Inspector General’s task is “to advise and report to the chief and the Capitol Police Board that the management and the operations … are accomplished using required accounting standards and appropriate management practices within the limits of the law.”

Former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said although he didn’t know Hoecker personally, he praised the creation of the position.

“At first blush I thought, oh boy, another oversight group,” he said, noting the number of members, staff and agencies the Capitol Police have to serve.

“The department has grown in so much in the size and scope of the budget it needs an inspector general,” he said.

Gainer said he thought the office would help promote “efficiency and compliance,” adding that if an inspector general had been present during his tenure as chief perhaps he would have been made aware of the nepotism law that led to his retirement.

Gainer retired in April amid charges of nepotism.

“There needs to be a system in place” to avoid such hiring mistakes, he said.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), in his position as president pro tempore of the Senate, approved Hoecker’s appointment as stipulated by the bill.

The position has a five-year term and cannot be reappointed for more than two additional terms. Hoecker also will be in charge of submitting semi-annual reports from the Chief of Police to Congress.

Now that the Capitol Police Board has appointed the inspector general, it can focus on interviewing candidates to replace Gainer. These interviews will take place at the end of this month.

While the Capitol Police Board intends to present its choice to Senate and House oversight committees, it did not consult most committee leaders during the selection process, according to those members’ offices.

“The Capitol Police Board sought input from various members of Congress prior to posting the vacancy announcement for chief of the Capitol Police,” said Kerri Hanley a spokeswoman for the president of the police board, House Sergeant-at-Arms Wilson Livingood. “The vacancy announcement was posted on August 6th with a first cutoff date of September 6th.”

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, was not consulted according to spokesman John Scofield, despite the fact that committee members have been the most critical of Gainer’s spending and budget requests.

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), ranking member of the committee who says the Capitol police has been “poorly fiscally managed,” also has yet to receive a call from the board, according to a spokeswoman.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Legislative Branch,  said his office was not contacted either.

Before Chief Terrance Gainer retired, House appropriators berated him, saying that he overspent and was fiscally irresponsible.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said he had spoken to Livingood about the new chief and believed the ideal candidate would be someone who understood budgetary constraints.

“They have to understand that we have a limited budget not a candy store where everything looks sweet,” he said.

As ranking member of the defunct House subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Moran has frequently criticized the Capitol Police budget. He played a key roll in the removal of funding for the Capitol Police six horse mounted unit, which was disbanded last year.