The U.S. Capitol Police on Tuesday urged Americans to tone down the divisive political language, as the number of threats against congressional lawmakers remains “too high.”
While threat investigations overall decreased in the past year, the force said the number is historically high.
In 2022, the Capitol Police investigated 7,501 cases involving concerning statements and direct threats, down from the all-time high of 9,625 cases in 2021, and 8,613 in 2020, according to a press release.
“This has resulted in a necessary expansion of, not only our investigative capabilities, but our protection responsibilities as well,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.
Manger added that the best way to ensure everyone’s safety is “to decrease violent political rhetoric across the country.”
The threat assessment comes more than two years after the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and months after the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, inside the couple’s San Francisco home in October. Nancy Pelosi was the intended target of 42-year-old David DePape who was looking to hold the then-speaker hostage and “break her kneecaps.”
Security cameras installed by the Capitol Police at the property captured the break-in but were not actively monitored at the time of the attack. Manger requested more resources following the incident to enhance security for lawmakers.
Mario Scalora, the U.S. Capitol Police’s consulting psychologist, attributed the overall rise of threats in recent decades to the widespread use of social media, where people “have a false sense of anonymity and feel more emboldened.”
“This is not a problem we can only arrest our way out of,” Scalora said.
The Capitol Police said every member of Congress receives threats, and the numbers across the two parties are similar.
The force said it has hired its own lawyers and has assigned them to the Justice Department “to work as prosecutors who specialize in the unique types of threat cases faced by Congress,” though their work is unrelated to Jan. 6.