Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) made two false requires emergency assist from U.S. Capitol Police final week ― simply to see how lengthy it will take for officers to reach, in line with two Capitol Police officers.
Fortenberry instructed Capitol Police he needed to check the duress button in his workplace, which alerts an emergency scenario. It was an uncommon request, however one which Capitol Police agreed to, these officers mentioned. So when Fortenberry pushed the button, they didn’t reply, as a result of they knew it was a check.
However, in line with the officers, it seems the Republican lawmaker wasn’t testing the machine itself; he was testing how shortly police would come to his workplace. When they didn’t come, he pushed the button a second time. Officers had been virtually to his workplace once they acquired phrase it was a check, so that they turned again. This apparently upset Fortenberry, who concluded the officers had been gradual to reply.
A spokesperson for Fortenberry initially didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark. After the story printed, his workplace supplied this assertion from Fortenberry’s chief of employees, Andrew Braner: “The Congressman strongly supports the Capitol Police, which is why we constructively worked through an unfortunate delay during a test of the duress alarm system with the police on the phone.”
The identical week that officers say Fortenberry performed his check, President Joe Biden and Hill leaders held a ceremony honoring Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed on April 2 when a car rammed right into a Senate barricade. Just weeks earlier, Biden and others honored one other Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who died after defending lawmakers and others through the violent revolt on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Fortenberry’s actions infuriated at the very least some Capitol Police officers who’ve been on edge amid the Capitol violence over the previous few months.
“The Department is already overworked and hypervigilant for actual threats. Morale cannot get any worse,” mentioned one of many two officers, each of whom requested anonymity in an effort to communicate freely. “This sort of behavior from a member or their staff is reprehensible.”
The second officer mentioned it was largely simply annoying, chalking up the episode to miscommunication.
“Apparently he doesn’t feel safe in a building with 800 officers in it,” this officer mentioned. “This guy is testing our response. But 10 minutes later, you move on.”
The officer added: “I’m not saying I’d make the same decision.”
Someone was offended sufficient about Fortenberry’s actions so as to add a piece to his Wikipedia web page, however that paragraph has since been deleted.
Here’s a screenshot from when it was nonetheless up:
When a lawmaker pushes the duress button in his or her workplace, it routinely triggers a minimal three-person response from the Capitol Police, the primary officer instructed HuffPost. Typically, a supervisor and two officers rush to the placement the place the button was pushed.
“It’s a charge in most jurisdictions to misuse police services,” the officer mentioned.
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