Tags: july 4 | capitol | party

Police Board: Capitol's Summer Parties Are Out of Control

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015 08:06 AM

The Capitol's Memorial Day and July Fourth parties need to be reined in, according to the U.S. Capitol Police Board, which sent congressional leaders a letter earlier this month citing concerns about security and overtime costs incurred in dealing with drunken revelers.

"The enormous growth in the sheer number of people inside the Capitol on the evening of both concerts has made enforcement of the basic rules of decorum extremely difficult to manage or enforce," the board said in its March 12 letter, reports CNN.

"Due to the large number of unescorted guests inside the Capitol, it is virtually impossible for Capitol Police to maintain the integrity of all private areas and offices within the building."

Part of the problem is the number of "coolers containing liquid," which several sources admitted is alcohol, that revelers bring in for the parties held to celebrate the holiday concerts.

Last July Fourth, reports CNN, heavy-drinking partiers overran the Capitol building. Although Congress is not in session on the holidays, many lawmakers stay in town for the concerts and parties, which are hosted by lawmakers, their staffs and the organizers of a nationally televised concert and fireworks display.

There have been no arrests, CNN reports, but there have been several falls and injuries, and a congressional source said one person nearly fell from a balcony.

The costs are also mounting during the holiday celebrations, the Police Board said. Last year, taxpayers spent $735,252 paying for 12,174 hours of police overtime during the concerts' setup, rehearsal, and performances.

The board wants congressional leaders to limit access to the building to only the members of Congress and their guests and staff whose offices are actually in the Capitol building. This would block most staff workers, who work out of the House and Senate's office buildings, from being in the Capitol building on the nights of the summer concerts.

"What started out as a small accommodation for staff with offices in the Capitol has grown to the point where it is virtually impossible to control and/or limit numbers to achieve safe evacuation levels," the letter says.

The drink coolers are also a problem, the Police Board said, because normally, only people who work in the building are allowed to bring in liquids, but on the concert nights, the coolers' contents are called "staff property" and allowed to get past those regulations.

The board also called for the parties to be moved to the U.S. Botanic Gardens, located at the edge of the Capitol grounds so fewer police officers would be needed, rather than in Statuary Hall, which is more difficult to monitor.

However, part of the reason the parties are in Statuary Hall is to honor veterans and service members, but the board's letter said they will still be allowed the access to tour the Capitol.

The March 12 letter was sent to House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who have not yet approved the restrictions.

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The Capitol's Memorial Day and July 4 parties need to be reined in, according to the U.S. Capitol Police Board, which sent congressional leaders a letter earlier this month citing concerns about security and overtime costs incurred in dealing with drunken revelers.
july 4, capitol, party
505
2015-06-25
Wednesday, 25 Mar 2015 08:06 AM
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