Nebraska Congressman Criticized For Testing Capitol Police Response

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The subject of security at the Capitol building is hot. After the actions of several individuals unlawfully entering the building earlier this year (aka “THE INSURRECTION”), the decry for more and better security measures has occurred. A lot of this comes with a steaming cup of hypocrisy, such as Pelosi’s hissy fits over Representative Boebert wanting to carry her Glock while on the job and pushes for added security for congresscritters in their home states. If the events of 2020 and 2021 has not taught some of these lawmakers that responsibly armed citizens protect themselves and others, who knows what ever will.  How many of our representatives were wishing they had a firearm the day they went on lock down? Yeah, no, they prefer that “guards” do their dirty work for them, while we foot the bill.

A congressmen from Nebraska, Representative Jeff Fortenberry, recently has been under fire for testing the Capitol Police response when he used a panic button.  From a Huffpost article, we have the following information:

Fortenberry told Capitol Police he wanted to test the duress button in his office, which signals an emergency situation. It was an unusual request, but one that Capitol Police agreed to, these officers said. So when Fortenberry pushed the button, they didn’t respond, because they knew it was a test.

However, according to the officers, it turns out the Republican lawmaker wasn’t testing the device itself; he was testing how quickly police would come to his office. When they didn’t come, he pushed the button a second time. Officers were almost to his office when they got word it was a test, so they turned back. This apparently upset Fortenberry, who concluded the officers were slow to respond.

There are a couple of questions raised here. Are live drills and testing of these duress alarms not commonplace? Schools have regular fire drills. Is there no policy in place for an unannounced drill to make sure that response times are appropriate? One can only wonder what the response standards are, if any, during such an event. All valid questions and things to think about.

If there are no concerns that response times are what they should be, why would Representative Fortenberry have decided to test the response in the first place? Just because some people found his methods to be unorthodox does not make them wrong. If anything, they point out the same kind of miscommunications that happened during 9/11 (did someone start the exercise early?).

Fortenberry’s actions infuriated at least some Capitol Police officers who have been on edge amid the Capitol violence over the past few months.

“The Department is already overworked and hypervigilant for actual threats. Morale cannot get any worse,” said one of the two officers, both of whom requested anonymity in order to speak freely. “This sort of behavior from a member or their staff is reprehensible.”

The second officer said it was mostly just annoying, chalking up the episode to miscommunication.

Maybe the right way to approach the representative on this subject is the same way one would when addressing Pelosi and those that wish to restrict Boebert from carrying on capitol grounds. Fortenberry should consider getting, if he has not already, some training on the use of a firearm, a carry permit for DC, and go to work armed. If he is that worried about his personal security, that is an option available to him. Maybe this is something he already does? That is doubtful though while looking over the list of bills he has sponsored or cosponsored for this legislative session. Taking a look at them, there does not seem to be one single bill that aims to remove restrictions on the Second Amendment. This is not to say his causes are bad causes or good causes, just pointing out there seems to be no gun rights enhancing bills there.

A quick look over Boebert’s legislative history shows that she has signed her name to at least four Second Amendment related bills, however she’s not introduced any of her own bills to date. Boebert should seize this opportunity and talk to Fortenberry. Maybe they can come up with some legislation that addresses the issues head on. On one hand, Fortenberry can have provisions of the law put in place where he’d get the appropriate response he wants from Capitol Police, and Boebert can get ridiculous rules keeping her from having her lawfully owned and possessed firearm with her while on the House Floor. The matter of “why should they get to carry in the capitol, and not us?” can spring up in conversation.  Well, they do work there. Not that they are any more important than you and I. However, these two representatives see an issue with the protection they do have.

If they’re able to hash out any differences of opinion, Boebert and Fortenberry can bring a bill forward for the people. Now that Fortenberry has tested the Capitol Police, he and other lawmakers should start testing their colleagues in the House as well.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET