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Capitol Police agents strained to probe increasing threats against lawmakers

Chris Marquette, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Capitol Police special agents responsible for vetting threats against members of Congress are inundated, leaving some investigations delayed for months and not enough time to monitor all the people they determine to be potentially dangerous.

An increase in recent years in the number of cases — which include threats and other concerning statements made against members, their families and staff — coincides with several high-profile attacks near the Capitol or at offices and residences.

Chief J. Thomas Manger has called for more funding for the department’s Threat Assessment Section that he described in July as stretched to capacity, and agents in that group described for CQ Roll Call why more staffing is needed.

“There is no possible way to keep up with the caseload,” said one of the agents, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to communicate with the media.

Agents in that section carry an average annual caseload of nearly 500, the chief told lawmakers at a hearing this year, as threats against members have increased about 300 percent over the past seven years.

On a given day, an agent could get assigned five new cases. Some cases typically take between three to six hours to investigate, while others can take substantially more.


“It’s overwhelming, and the quality of the investigation can be lower,” another agent said.

The annual caseload should be closer to 100 per agent to conduct a thorough and comprehensive threat investigation, according to a department official, whose comments were included in an internal 2021 report that has not been made public.

Incoming threats

Agents sort through stacks of threats and other concerning statements, which can be handwritten letters, emails, social media posts and voicemails. Supervisors determine the priority level and assign them.


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