Attack At Pelosi Home Caught By Unattended Capitol Police Cameras

The detail renews concerns about the difficulty of protecting lawmakers amid surging threats and limited policing resources.
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Security cameras installed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco captured the break-in before her husband was attacked by a man with a hammer last week, but U.S. Capitol Police officers weren’t actively monitoring them at the time.

“While the Speaker was with her security detail in Washington, D.C., the San Francisco cameras were not actively monitored as they are when the Speaker is at the residence,” USCP confirmed in a statement Wednesday. “The Command Center personnel noticed the police activity on the screen and used the feeds to monitor the response and assist investigators.”

USCP also said the department will conduct an internal investigation to review its security practices.

The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that the cameras were unattended.

The news raises additional questions about how someone was able to break into the Democratic leader’s home Friday and attack Paul Pelosi, who remains hospitalized after surgery for his injuries. But it also reflects the ongoing difficulties the Capitol Police and local law enforcement have in protecting members of Congress amid a surge in violent threats.

As the House speaker and a near-constant target of conservative ire, Pelosi receives more violent death threats than any other member of Congress. But the total number of recorded threats against lawmakers has surged more than tenfold in the five years since Donald Trump was elected president.

The Capitol Police monitor about 1,800 cameras each day, most at the Capitol complex in Washington but some at other points in the country. The Post notes the agency installed cameras at Pelosi’s home eight years ago and that she has a round-the-clock security detail. But she left her home in San Francisco last week, and most of the security detail left with her. The cameras were also not being monitored full time while she was in Washington.

David DePape is accused of breaking into Pelosi’s home seeking to kidnap the speaker and “break her kneecaps,” according to The Associated Press. The Post, citing current and former law enforcement officials, said officers monitoring the Capitol Police feeds early Friday only noticed there was an issue when they saw police lights flashing on the feeds from Pelosi’s home.

Paul Pelosi called 911 after the break-in, and police arrived while he was being attacked.

Police stand at the top of the closed street outside the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, in San Francisco on Friday. Paul Pelosi, was severely beaten by an assailant who broke into their home.
Police stand at the top of the closed street outside the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, in San Francisco on Friday. Paul Pelosi, was severely beaten by an assailant who broke into their home.
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

DePape has since been charged with attempted murder, burglary and attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official. He was ordered held without bail at an arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday after pleading not guilty.

Lawmakers are reportedly considering how to better address security concerns after the latest attacks and the fallout from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The Post added that the U.S. Capitol Police have been reminding those on the Hill about the resources that are available, including funding for at-home security systems and increased security budgets for individual lawmakers who may face more threats.

The Capitol Police have been working to improve intelligence and strengthen the relationship with local law enforcement agencies. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday that the attack on Paul Pelosi was an “alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today’s contentious political climate.”

“During this time of heightened political tension, we continue to monitor thousands of cases across the country ― in an effort to stop potential threats before they make headlines,” Manger said in a statement, noting the agency was on track to meet a goal of hiring 280 additional officers by the end of the year.

Most members of Congress receive little security from the government, and it’s rare for their families to have any taxpayer-funded protection. Although one recent review of Capitol security recommended the Capitol Police hire 800 new officers, that proposal was not followed.

The Times noted that Republicans and Democrats receive similar numbers of threats, however, the GOP has balked at spending money to strengthen lawmakers’ protection. After the Pelosi attack, some Democrats said they would push to readdress the lack of new funding.

“It’s inconceivable that the family of the person, the woman, who is second in line to the presidency, doesn’t have appropriate security,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), told the Times. “I think it’s important that we address that inconsistency.”

Congress included nearly $708 million in funding for the Capitol Police for 2023 in its appropriation bills, which are set to be hashed out after the midterm elections.

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