House Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announced his intention to retire on January 17, 2012 Thursday, ending a half century long career in federal law enforcement.
Livingood has been in his current position for 17 years through both Republican and Democratic-led Houses. He spent 33 years with the United States Secret Service before coming to Capitol Hill.
His tenure saw several tragedies and emergencies unfold in the Capitol. In 1998, two U.S. Capitol Police officers were killed after a gunman opened fire shortly after entering the building. Livingood was also in charge during the September 11th terrorist attacks, the anthrax release on Capitol Hill later that year, and the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in her home district in January.
His resolve during those events earned him praise from both sides of the aisle. "Bill Livingood has served the House during the most challenging times faced by anyone who has ever held this demanding position," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement, "Thanks to Bill's vision and leadership, we now have enhanced security throughout the Capitol complex, a larger and more professional U.S. Capitol Police force, greatly improved planning and training for emergency response and disaster recovery, and a host of other advances that are visible to few but valuable to all." Former Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised his evenhanded nature, noting that Livingood, "Always discharge(d) his duties with bipartisanship and the utmost professionalism."
Livingood is perhaps best known to Americans as the man responsible for introducing the president at the annual State of the Union Address.
A successor should be announced soon, with a vote to elect the Speaker's nominee scheduled for January 17, the beginning of the Second Session of the 112th Congress.