House Members Advised to Contact Police

By Chris Good
The House Sergeant at Arms, the chief security officer for members of the House of Representatives, is advising lawmakers to talk to local police after Saturday's shooting.

"It is essential that each District Office establish communication with local law enforcement. The local agency should be informed of your District Office address and the Member's residential address. Most agencies will provide additional attention to those locations upon request," Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood wrote in an e-mail to House staff.

Livingood also advised members to contact him immediately if they intend to hold any public events.

Earlier on Saturday, the Capitol Police e-mailed House staff to advise them to take safety precautions.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot outside a Safeway grocery store in her home district on Saturday, where Giffords was holding a public event to meet with constituents. The shooting obviously raises  concerns about lawmakers' security as they appear in public for speeches and town-hall meetings.

House members are not assigned Secret Service or other special security details. The Speaker, majority leader, majority whip, minority leader, and minority whip receive special protection from the Capitol Police. If security is provided for an event being held by any other lawmaker, it's up to local police forces to do so.

An e-mail from the House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood:

From: House Sergeant at Arms [sgt90187@alert.house.gov]
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2011 8:30 PM
To: All House Staff
Subject: Message from the House Sergeant at Arms

As local and national law enforcement authorities continue to investigate the tragic incident which took place in Arizona today, I would like to make you aware of the following measures which are being taken in conjunction with the U.S. Capitol Police:

* U.S. Capitol Police are directly involved in the investigation and are working with local and national law enforcement authorities.
* At this time, there is no indication that this incident is part of any larger threat against Congress or has a nexus to terrorism.
* We will continue to review our security posture and make adjustments as necessary.

I strongly urge Members and staff to be continuously aware of their surroundings and to immediately report circumstances that appear suspicious to your local law enforcement agency and then to the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section at 202-224-1495. The Threat Assessment Section continuously monitors sources and circumstances for indications of threatening, unusual interest, or unlawful activity directed toward Members of Congress. It is extensively networked with a multitude of federal, state and local law enforcement resources.

It is essential that each District Office establish communication with local law enforcement. The local agency should be informed of your District Office address and the Member's residential address. Most agencies will provide additional attention to those locations upon request. The Threat Assessment Section can also assist in contacting the appropriate agency.

If you are scheduled to be in a public forum (town hall meetings, rallies, etc.), and feel uncertain about your safety, immediately contact the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section or the Sergeant at Arms.

As always, my office is available to answer questions or provide any assistance you may require. You may contact the office at 202-225-2456. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of this senseless tragedy.

Bill Livingood
House Sergeant at Arms

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/01/house-members-advised-to-contact-police/69150/