Capitol Police union douses private security proposal

The U.S. Capitol Police union is sharply criticizing a new proposal by department leadership to add private security contractors to protect the Capitol, calling the plan “a recipe for disaster.”

“We need to hire more officers — period. The last thing we need are private security contractors who are not trained to our standards,” Gus Papathanasiou, the chair of the union, said in a statement. “In law enforcement, we have to trust the men and women next to us. That trust enabled us, along with our partner agencies, to hold back the attackers on January 6th long enough to safely evacuate all Members of Congress and the Vice President.”

The Capitol Police has said the private security contract proposal was not finalized. “We are working hard to bring on more officers. In fact, we have a virtual recruiting event on shortly,” Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said in a statement. The department cited initiatives to keep officers on the force like a student loan repayment program, retention bonuses for officers, and the raising of the maximum hiring age to 40 and the maximum retirement age to 60.

In a television interview, Manger floated a proposal to station contract security guards at some “secondary posts,” such as garages, that Capitol Police leadership believed did not require an armed Capitol Police officer.

“We think that if we are able to put contract security guards at some of those posts, that will free up a number of sworn police officers and we can assign them to where they are needed and where we require actually an armed Capitol Police officer,” he said. A job posting, which was published, calls for applicants to apply to Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc. for the “exciting role of an Unarmed Security Officer” for the Capitol Police.

Listed responsibilities include many of the tasks assigned to current armed Capitol Police officers: “Access Control,” “Processing visitors for entry into a facility,” “Conducting inspections and screenings,” “Patrol and responding to calls,” “Directing traffic,” “Monitoring and operating security and safety systems” and “Reporting incidents and writing reports of the incidents.” Pay starts at $24 an hour with an additional $4.23 an hour for “health and welfare.”