Following a U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announcement that the law enforcement agency will open two Capitol Police field offices, questions are being raised about jurisdiction and government overreach.

The announcement to create offices in Florida and California to investigate threats against members of Congress, comes six months after the incidents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The USCP is comprised of more than 2,300 officers and civilian employees, and has an annual budget of approximately $460 million. The USCP is responsible for protecting Congress and the public, and maintaining order while protecting the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. Code states that  “the United States Capitol Police is authorized to protect, in any area of the United States, the person of any Member of Congress, officer of the Congress, as defined in section 4101(b) of this title, and any member of the immediate family of any such Member or officer, if the Capitol Police Board determines such protection to be necessary.”

Does this language, which authorizes protection, allow for the creation of investigative offices?

In the news release, USCP said they will be working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“A regional approach to investigating and prosecuting threats against members is important, so we will be working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in those locations. More field offices will be opening in the future,” the news release said.

The Florida field office will be located in Tampa, despite Tallahassee being Florida’s capital city. USCP selected the two states because they said it is where a large portion of threats originate.

As part of their investigation processes, USCP in Tampa will have access to “state-of-the-art campus surveillance technology, which will enhance the ability to detect and monitor threat activity.”

Questions immediately began to spring up about the legality of USCP opening field offices.

It is unclear if the USCP agents in the Tampa office will have the authority to make arrests and actively seek to prosecute individuals accused of threatening members of Congress, and some online pundits have immediately begun pushing back against the announcement saying it is “government overreach.”

“Any Capitol Police officer who steps foot in another state to set up a field office should be escorted immediately to the airport under threat of arrest. And the National Guard should be the ones escorting,” said talk radio host Jesse Kelly.

Critics of the move have immediately pointed out progressive Democrats in Congress did not support a $1.9 billion USCP budget because it “prioritizes more money for a broken system that has long upheld & protected the white supremacist violence we saw.”

Questions about the Jan. 6 incidents have been circulating since videos of USCP officers seemingly holding the door for the protestors to get in and not making any effort to stop them.

Also in the aftermath of the incidents, reports have come out indicating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) denied requests to send the in the National Guard six times, and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also denied the same requests.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Capitol Police car” by Cliff CC BY 2.0