Protection for Elected Officials, Part 6, Why Didn’t You Just Listen?

Protection for Elected Officials, Part 6, Why Didn’t You Just Listen?
Matthew Parker, CEO, ISA May 25th, 2021

“Stuck on Stupid?”
LTG Honoré
2005 Hurricane Katrina News Conference

 I can see it now, LTG Honoré my former Brigade commander sitting with his team reviewing the events of January 6th at the capitol, and as he sits there taking it all in he is quietly thinking are these people “stuck on stupid”. And of course, this wouldn’t be the first time those thoughts crossed his mind, but in this context, a security review, I can feel his pain because in what is not our first, or second article about the protection of elected officials, here we are again taking a look at how Congress with all the best data available continues to fail to take the steps needed to protect democracy.

 In this article, we will not only look at Republican Rep. Liz Cheney’s comments that “several Republican Members of Congress had voted against impeaching Trump out of fear for their own lives” but we will look at what we and others have said about congressional protection in the past, and see if there is a pattern of rhetoric vs. action.

A Shocking Admission:

 During the week of 5/06/2021 Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney told CNN’s Jake Tapper “If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives,” she said. “And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that Members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security.”

 I’m sorry but “that tells you something about where we are as a country” as if this is something new? Truthfully, we shouldn’t be surprised at all, this statement from Rep Cheney is just another in a long line of statements from elected officials that point out the perceived or real lack of security for Members of Congress has had a direct effect on their role in government. In effect, it has kept them from doing their jobs. 


In 2011 Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s is shot. This really should end the timeline. But, 

In February 2017 Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), and Rep. Reichert (R-WA) decided to not hold public events, and blamed their decisions on “the threat of violence at town hall meetings” and they used the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s as their evidence.

Jun 14, 2017 — Congressman Steve Scalise is shot on an Alexandria Virginia Baseball Field, seriously, are we really going on from here? Yup, 

 In October 2017, Rep. Frederica S. Wilson of Florida felt it necessary to “skip votes” because of “a wave of threats against her. Representative Wilson didn’t just skip votes, the honorable lady, in fact, spent the week home in her Miami district protected by a security detail, and with the U.S. Capitol Police monitoring her office on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California reported on June 28, 2018, “threatening messages” and “hostile mail” at her office, including “one very serious death threat” from an individual in Texas. As a result, Rep. Waters canceled two scheduled appearances in Alabama and Texas for that weekend.


Now, considering the current balance of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate one elected official not showing up to vote could have a major impact on legislation passing or not passing. Look no further than the effort to repeal Obama care, a bill killed by one thumb down vote by Senator McCain.

 With a well-known history of threats having a direct effect on our democracy, and this documented example of how one vote can be crucial to a major piece of legislation, why are we still allowing the protection of an elected official to be a factor in how our representative democracy works?

 I’m sorry but Rep Cheney just said the impeachment of a President of the United States was affected by Members of Congress being afraid to vote their conscience out of fear for their safety.  

Looking Back:

Defending Democracy, protection for elected officials, executive protection trainingBut let’s back up a bit, in a January 2021 letter written by Democratic Representatives Josh Gottheimer , and Dean Phillips and addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leadership including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy thirty (30) House Members said they felt like “targets” and asked for more security.

 In the opening paragraph of the letter, they wrote “The horrific attack on the United States Capitol reminds us of the grim reality that Members of Congress are high-profile public officials, and therefore, face ongoing security threats”. Continuing, the authors also point out “in recent years, there has been a surge of threats and attacks on members of Congress, including the 2017 baseball game practice shooting that wounded Republican Whip Steve Scalise. “Members now regularly face threats in Washington D.C. and in their District”.

Now some facts and figures:

 The authors point out that;

  1. “In the Summer of 2019, then Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that there were 4,894 cases of threats against Members in FY2018 and that FY2019 was on track to see an increase in the number of cases.
  2. “This is compared to 902 investigated threats against Members in 2016”
  3. “The increased level of threats has overwhelmed the Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section”.

Answers & Solutions:

 Given this letter and the well-documented threats to Members of Congress imagine our total lack of surprise when these same House Members requested, (and not for the first time), authorization to use their congressional allowances to hire local law enforcement or other security personnel.

  Now that is a great idea, allow Members of Congress authorization to hire security, if only they could get authorization and budget approval.  

 Which they already have if for official business as noted in the 116th Congressional Hand Book page 25-26, where it states clearly “Ordinary and necessary expenses associated with security measures necessitated by official duties are reimbursable”.

 Under the vaguely titled section “Security Personnel Support” it says “Payment for security personnel is an ordinary and necessary reimbursable expense when such personnel is hired:

  1. To provide security at an official, Member hosted district events (e.g., town halls);
  2. To accompany Members during the performance of their official duties; or
  3. To be stationed inside or outside the district office during business hours.


Now let’s point out that we have previously written about the allowance in originally written 11/7/2017 and in published on June 28, 2017, and in both articles, we directly addressed the allowance and its use for physical & personal security programs for Members.

 So again, what is the question here?  Why are lawmakers four years later asking for “greater latitude in the ways they may spend their Members’ Representational Allowances”. Members of Congress you have the authority and the budget to hire security at home in your district for official functions.

 Fine Print:

 Wait, official functions?  Shouldn’t members be protected at home as well?  Well, that question is answered by the authors of the letter also, “there has been a nearly fivefold increase in threats against members in recent years” so Members request that the allowance also cover local law enforcement or other security personnel to protect members in their homes”.

What we Know:

 We know the threat, we know the protective measures, we have some budget, we need authorization for security funding during non-official duties but that should be easy enough, oh, we see the problem, further down in the same letter it says “Protecting Members in their District is much harder because local law enforcement agencies are stretched and limited, and often don’t have sufficient staffing or money to provide regular protection to Members,”

Use of Law Enforcement

Anne Arundel County Police Academy Round Table Discussion

Well forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by this epiphany, we have been publically calling for the increased protection of elected officials for years.  In fact, we have contacted elected officials with our concerns, we have volunteered our services, we conducted two round table discussions attended by elected officials, law enforcement, and police training directors to discuss the use of private security to augment and support the protection of elected officials, and in January 2021 we conducted a safety and security brief for (200) two hundred members of one of the two major political parties.

 Forgive our tone, but we have been training state and local law enforcement to provide protection to elected officials since 2011, and writing about this issue since 2017.

 We said in our first article, “Unfortunately, most local law enforcement is not trained, equipped or funded for this role”, and “private security, in general, is in no better position”. We then offered to provide services and training to help.

 Over (300) members of law enforcement have since attended ISA accredited Dignitary and Executive Protection Training, and that number grows every few months as more officers, troopers, and deputies are assigned to protective assignments and attend training with us.  

 In 2018 we again said in another article “Questions arise on what congressional security should look like back home in the districts”. “Should it be local or state law enforcement, teams from the National Guard perhaps, or private security?” and we ended our thoughts with this, “I can tell you both the police and private agents when properly resourced, equipped, and trained can do a great job”.

 We were correct then and we still feel that way today. With proper training local and state police could provide close protection to members of congress effectively, and as we have mentioned the money is there in the member’s budget to cover those expenses. 

What the Experts Say:

 But now we have Task Force 1-6 and the Capitol Security Review, which at the direction of the Speaker of the House, was overseen by my former Brigade Commander Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, USA (Retired).

  So after looking back to 2017 and reviewing our own articles and recommendations, how do we stack up against this review by LTG Honoré?

  The review was non-partisan, and was a six-week process for the purpose of “identifying actions or decisions that could be taken immediately or in the near-term to improve the security of the Capitol, Members, and staff”

 Key Points: Protection of Elected Officials

  In the review titled Member Security While Traveling and in Their Districts, it says in the section Dignitary Protection Services;

  1. “The Member threat environment is not confined to the Capitol Complex. Although the USCP’s Dignitary Protection Division (DPD) provides adequate security to House leadership, other Members, faced with varying threat levels, have limited or inconsistent protection at their homes, in their districts, and while in transit”.

  I think we can say we covered those same findings in our own articles as far back as 2017. It’s the whole reason we started training law enforcement in 2011 to begin with.

  1. “When the threat warrants, the DPD assigns a dignitary protection team to a Member for a period, but this process is not standardized or evenly applied”.

 We have been preaching about standards, training, and SOPs for protective organizations since 2012. In a 2012 visit to the House Sergeant of Arms office in DC, I specifically requested the Sergeant of Arms look at our curriculum and recommend changes to ensure we were training law enforcement to the same standards, on the same material and topics, and using the same references. He was unable to assist us because we are a private training provider. Never mind we were training officers from departments all around DC, Maryland, and Virginia. But thanks to a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and its forward-looking staff we did eventually sync our program with FLETC.    

  1. The DPD should develop a threat-based protection model that can be consistently applied to non-leadership, allocating protection resources based on an evaluation of risk to Members and their families.

We have been teaching about threat assessments, teaching how to complete a threat assessment and how to use that assessment to build a risk mitigation program. We cover resource management and expanding or contracting security measures based on threat. Our students are well familiar with the process; I would think the DPD could look to them for help in that regard.

  1. “With communicated threats against Members tracking at nearly four times last year’s level, the DPD should also increase in size to viably handle growing demand for Member security”.

 Or, the DPD should work with state and local law enforcement to ensure those agencies and departments have trained EP teams to provide close protection to elected officials when they return to their districts,
state and local law enforcement should be authorized to provide protection in DC under reciprocal agreements when threat assessments warrant.


 Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress, officials of the capitol police, and other interested parties, “are we stuck on stupid” it’s possible, but we don’t need to be. Task Force 1-6 and the Capitol Security Review, overseen by my former Brigade Commander Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, having stolen all our work since 2017 has provided a path forward. (Just kidding Sir)

 Make some minor organizational changes, build a more robust threat assessment process and increase the manpower available to provide protection to members. I would only recommend these recommendations be mirrored at the state and local level, and that private security providers truly prepared to provide those services be considered.  

About the author:

 Matthew Parker is a retired U.S. Army Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and combat veteran with more than 20 years of distinguished military service, Mr. Parker has served in a variety of leadership & protective service assignments and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Independent Security Advisors LLC, a certified disabled veteran-owned company where he also serves as the Director of Training for the ISA Training Division, overseeing their programs relating to dignitary & executive protection and terrorism. Mr. Parker also serves as a special adviser to the board of MS Global LLC and to the Institutional Investors Consulting Company on matters of national and international governmental security policy, military operations, and their effect on international commerce opportunities.

Mr. Parker has over 16 years of executive and dignitary protection experience where he has been directly responsible for the close protection of international diplomats & trade delegations, corporate executives, candidates for public office and various celebrities. With his extensive experience as a special advisor and consultant to domestic and international clients, Mr. Parker provides program management and executive leadership services for executive protection organizations and non-government organizations on areas of concentration that include supporting democracy through the protection of elected officials and world leaders, anti-terrorism and combating extremism.

Mr. Parker also oversees the Domestic Violence Action Network, a non-profit effort to stop domestic violence in partnership with law enforcement and private security providers nationally.

Article Sources  Merriam Webster; Definition of Epiphany: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; An intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking; An illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure  

Article: US House members ask for more security amid fears they’re targets
Edward Helmore in New York, Thu 28 Jan 2021   

#executiveprotectiontraining, #isa, #securityforelectedofficials, #securityforcongress, executive protection training

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