Capitol Police officers are getting more guidance on how to handle their firearms during bathroom visits after officers accidentally left their guns in the Capitol's public restrooms three times this year.
One gun was found by a child.
"We are now providing additional training on what you have to do when you go to the bathroom," Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine told Congress on Wednesday.
Dine said there is no excuse for officers accidentally leaving their guns in public bathrooms. He said the officers were being disciplined, but he did not name them. A first-time offender typically would be suspended for at least five days, he said.
Dine said he is considering increasing the minimum penalty to a 30-day suspension for a first offense, and termination for a subsequent violation.
"I would be remiss if I did not say that the officers involved in these recent weapons cases reported in the media in no way intended to leave their weapons unattended. But as noted, this is not acceptable and they will be held accountable," Dine told the House Administration Committee. "They do take very seriously their life and safety responsibilities and they acknowledge that they made a mistake."
Dine testified before the committee following several embarrassing episodes at the Capitol, including a protester who flew a small gyrocopter onto the grounds of the Capitol in April.
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., said the lost guns and other incidents have him questioning the leadership of the police force. Brady is the top Democrat on the committee, which oversees security at the Capitol.
He and others complained that Capitol Police have been slow to provide them with information about incidents in and around the complex.
Lawmakers said they learned about the guns in the bathrooms by reading about them in the press.
"We're not here to criticize you. I can't do your job," Brady told Dine. "You could probably do mine."
But, Brady added: "This is the first time I've met you."
Dine, chief for 2 1/2 years, promised to communicate better with lawmakers.