Capitol Police set for toilet training after breaking ‘rule number one,’ leaving guns in lavatories

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"Controlling your weapon ..." mused an incredulous Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., at a Wednesday hearing, probing why three U.S. Capitol Police officers mistakenly left their loaded service firearms in Capitol restrooms this year. "That's like rule number one."

Perhaps while doing number one, officers broke rule number one when they bid farewell to their arms in the congressional lavatories.

Nugent knows something about the best practices of law enforcement. He served for a decade as the sheriff of Hernando County, Fla. But it's doubtful Nugent ever had to make sure his cadets went through "toilet training" before graduating from the academy.

For Capitol Police, it's about to become part of the curriculum.

"We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go the bathroom," U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told the House Administration Committee as it studied the spate of incidents in the loo.

One member of the USCP detail assigned to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stuffed a Glock and a magazine into a holder containing toilet seat covers in a Capitol bathroom stall. An officer on the security detail of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also left a weapon in the speaker's restroom -- with a child nearby. A third officer abandoned a weapon in a restroom at the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters.

"We're all human. Everyone has to go to the bathroom," said House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller, R-Mich. "This is one of the bigger concerns we've had since I've been here on the Hill."

"I would venture common sense will prevail and no officer will ever again leave a firearm in a toilet-cover dispense again in the Capitol complex," predicted Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. "Hopefully, you didn't have to put a specific provision into your training manual."

The first of the restroom incidents dates back to January. The most recent occurred in April. Many lawmakers only became privy to the mistakes after they were first reported in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.

Naturally, the information was leaked.

Dine has been the Capitol's top cop since 2012. But this was only his first appearance before the House Administration panel. That fact perturbed Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., the leading Democrat on the committee.

"Far be it for me to make you feel uncomfortable. We're friendlies here," groused Brady to Dine. "But this is the first time I've met you."

Multiple sources tell Fox News that Brady and other members of the committee were peeved that Dine didn't do more outreach to the very panel which oversees his department and is charged with securing Capitol Hill. Two of the sources noted that wasn't the case with Dine's predecessor, former USCP Chief Phil Morse (now the head of public safety at American University in Washington, D.C.) as well as House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. When asked why members didn't instead ring up Dine, lawmakers indicated it should work the other way around.

"I have to take issue with the lack of communication," complained Miller to Dine shortly after gaveling the hearing to order.

Dine conceded he hadn't done as much outreach as he should have. The chief promised members of the committee he'd work to keep them better informed.

"Run, don't walk to this committee," admonished Brady.

During the hearing, Dine told lawmakers that although his department meted out discipline to the officers who lost their guns, the two who served on the security details remained in those high-profile assignments. Nugent said if his deputies lost track of their weapons, he would have re-assigned those officers to desk jobs until the conclusion of an investigation.

"It sets bad precedent. You don't give confidence to the people you're protecting or the guys on the street or others in the department," said Nugent. "What are the greater breaches out there that we don't know about?"

Lawmakers also appeared surprised that the USCP didn't brief Boehner and McConnell after their guards left their weapons behind.

Dine's faced a lot of questions lately from congressional overlords. Later Thursday, Douglas Hughes appears for an arraignment before a federal judge in Washington after he landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn last month. The feds indicted Hughes on six charges: two felonies and four misdemeanors for allegedly violating restricted airspace and possibly skirting other aviation rules. Hughes could face nearly a decade in prison.

Members of the committee had mixed views about the USCP's response to the gyrocopter. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., expressed concern that something didn't intercept the aircraft before it crept so close to the Capitol, wondering why it wasn't shot out of the sky.

Nugent fretted about the possibility of USCP officers trying to fire on the gyrocopter as it approached the Capitol. He noted that it was risky to try to hit such a moving target with long guns. He was worried about the safety of civilians and tourists on the National Mall.

"If you miss, the lead has to land somewhere," Nugent said.

But lawmakers were particularly upset about what the USCP knew about the gyrocopter and when. A reporter from the Tampa Bay Times appears to have given the USCP two vague tips about what turned out to be the imminent landing of the gyrocopter. Nugent noted authorities had "24 minutes" to react and should have used that time to evacuate the Capitol.

"We don't get many emails about gyrocopters on the Capitol lawn," said Dine.

"Bells should be ringing. Sirens should be blaring. It's pretty damn important," said Nugent.

The Florida Republican gave high marks to USCP officers who responded immediately to the gyrocopter landing and arrested Hughes. However, he was less-impressed with USCP decision makers.

"If this happened in my department, there would be a whole bunch of people reassigned," said Nugent.

Miller was more upbeat about how the USCP handled the incident.

"I thought the Capitol Police performed very well, once the copter landed," she said.

The Michigan Republican raised with Dine the possibility of installing special surveillance systems closer to the ground to detect low-flying aircraft, like drones. Miller indicated that U.S border agents use that technology and they "can see everything."

All of this boils down to what's at stake at the U.S. Capitol. The USCP isn't just another law enforcement agency. Unattended firearms winding up in the wrong hands inside the Capitol would result in mayhem and carnage - trumped only by staggering political upheaval.

The gyrocopter landed just feet from where President Obama spoke Friday at a ceremony honoring police officers who died in the line of duty. It's likely a version of World War III would have erupted on the West Front of the Capitol had Hughes piloted his gyrocopter to the Capitol at the same time the president was there.

Lawmakers on the panel implored the USCP to just get things right.

"If the Congress is destroyed, the United States government is destroyed," warned Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., ominously.

And that is rule number one.

Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill team. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy issues being introduced, debated and voted on there.