U.S. Capitol Police want the power to make arrests throughout the Washington area, a proposal that some members of Congress criticize as an unwarranted widening of authority beyond the agency’s traditional responsibility to protect the Capitol, lawmakers and visitors.
The expansion of authority, first discussed publicly at a House subcommittee hearing last week, is one of several requests the force has made recently to Congress.
Capitol Police officials want:
–to expand their workforce from 1,393 sworn officers to 1,833 and from 227 civilian employees to 573 by the end of September 2004.
–funding for off-duty officers to carry smaller versions of the .40-caliber handguns they use as service weapons.
–a mounted unit, a hazardous materials response team, and a merger with the 132-member Library of Congress police force.