In the first three months of the year, Capitol Police recorded 4,135 threats against Congress members. If that pace continues, total threats in 2021 will double those in 2020.
It’s a trend that has been growing for years, and Capitol Police are scrambling to keep pace. They’re rethinking the way they protect Congress members in and outside Washington, forging closer ties with the FBI and opening satellite offices outside the capital for the first time.
And it’s changing the job for lawmakers, who now must tread a fine line between being accessible to the people they represent and keeping themselves, their families and their staff safe. After Jan. 6, some members temporarily relocated their families over concerns that people would target their homes. Others wore bulletproof vests to the presidential inauguration.
“It’s difficult, and particularly difficult for the family,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), who once as state legislator had a gun pointed at him during a town hall. “There are risks in this job. There’s no doubt about it. We spend millions of dollars to let everybody know who we are. So you become a target.”