More than 400 people have been arrested for drug possession inside the U.S. Capitol or the nearby grounds since 2010, according to a review of police records by the News4 I-Team.
Among them were arrests for possession of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, PCP and drug paraphernalia. The arrests made by U.S. Capitol Police include tourists, congressional staff and pedestrians.
The I-Team review raised new concerns about potential shortfalls in funding of the U.S. Capitol Police and fears that a new wave of innovative drug paraphernalia is emboldening drug users to attempt to carry illegal substances into sensitive government buildings.
Capitol Police arrest records show officers made 85 arrests for drug possession on Capitol grounds in 2013. Similar numbers -- 99 arrests in 2012, 93 arrests in 2011, 115 arrests in 2010 -- were recorded in years prior.
The pace has continued in 2014. In all, about one of every 10 arrests by U.S. Capitol police involve drug possession, the I-Team learned.
In a March incident, a visitor was stopped and arrested for possession of drugs while trying to enter the U.S. Senate chamber. In another, an aide to a longtime U.S. Senator was busted for possession, while entering a Senate office building.
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Mike Gimbel, a Maryland drug counselor and former drug addict, said drug users are increasingly bold in their efforts to carry and use drugs in government buildings and facilities because of sophisticated technology for disguising illegal substances and the pipes used to consume them. Gimbel said police agencies throughout Washington, D.C.; Maryland and Virginia should expect to find those devices in the bags and pockets of visitors to government buildings.
“When you’ve got people addicted, they’re going to try to do anything,” Gimbel said. “Their drug is more important than their jobs and their family.”
Capitol Police records obtained by the News4 I-Team show multiple arrests in which police confiscated “pipes” in the possession of visitors or employees of the Capitol. Gimbel said local police in the D.C.-region have reported similar findings. He demonstrated an array of new paraphernalia to disguise pipes, including fake lipstick holders, flash lights, soda cans and magic markers.
Capitol Police incident reports show, in some cases, officers spotted drugs being carried in plain sight. In other instances, officers detected an odor or discovered the narcotics at a magnetometer or entrance security checkpoint.
“USCP officers are strategically deployed throughout the Capitol complex to provide a safe environment for the legislative business of Capitol Hill to continue without interruption,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said. “Some of our robust security measures are visible to the public while others are not.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said the News4 I-Team’s findings raise new concerns about whether Capitol Police have sufficient funding. Norton said the agency has experienced 160 furloughs amid recent budget constraints from Congress.
"With an increased workload and drugs being found on the grounds of the Capitol, they have fewer men and women to do anything about it,” she said.
This spring, the U.S. House is debating Capitol Police funding for fiscal year 2015 as part of its legislative appropriations bill. The bill calls for a $9 million budget increase.
Every door to the U.S. Capitol is secured by at least one Capitol police officer. The agency handles about 9.8 million screenings of people entering Capitol buildings each year.
UCSA – POSS MARIJUANA – MISD
2/11/13 - 8:15 AM
R/O while on patrol, observed the Defendant smoking a hand-rolled cigarette in the 400 Block of Delaware Avenue, NE. Upon approach, R/O smelled an odor consistent with burning marijuana coming from the Defendant. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test on the substance which yielded positive results for THC. The Defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA – POSS OF DRUG PARA – MISD
2/16/13 – 7:01 AM
R/O while on patrol, observed a vehicle traveling southbound in the 500 Block of North Capitol Street, NW, approach an intersection with a green light and come to a stop. The vehicle continue, failing to maintain proper lanes, and failed to stop at a red light at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and D Street, NW. A traffic stop was conducted in the 400 Block of New Jersey Avenue, NW. An odor of burnt marijuana emanated from the vehicle and a green leafy substance was observed on the Defendant’s lap. R/O discovered a clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance and other drug paraphernalia. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test on the substance which yielded positive results for THC. Two Defendants were placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA – PWID PCP – FEL
5/14/13 – 7:01 AM
ADDITIONAL CHARGES: DWI; NO VALID PERMIT R/O while on patrol, was dispatched to the 200 Block of New Jersey Avenue, NW for the report of a suspicious person. R/O observed the Defendant behaving in an irregular manner and detected a chemical odor of PCP emitting from the Defendant’s breath & person. A search of the Defendant revealed a bottle containing a substance emitting a chemical smell consistent with PCP. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test which yielded positive results for PCP. The Defendant was observed operating a motor vehicle. Based on numerous clues of impairment, the Defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA – POSS MARIJUANA – MISD
5/28/13 – 10:36 AM
ADDITIONAL CHARGES: UCSA POSS DRUG PARA; POSS OF BB GUN ON PUBLIC SPACE; POSS OF UNREG AMMO; PPW R/O while on patrol, observed a vehicle parked illegally in the 100 Block of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. While issuing the traffic violation, R/O observed a gun lock box in plain view in the vehicle. R/O discovered various prohibited weapons, ammunition, & a BB gun. Search incident to arrest revealed drugs and drug paraphernalia on the Defendant. The substance field tested by CSS yielded positive results. The Defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA – POSS MARIJUANA – MISD
9/26/13 – 10:34 AM
ADDITIONAL CHARGE: UCSA – POSS DRUG PARA – MISD R/O while conducting an administrative search at a building entrance, discovered a pipe consistent with what is used to smoke marijuana and a small container with a green leafy substance. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test on the substance which yielded positive results for THC. The defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA-POSS MARIJUANA- MISD
2/24/2014 - 1:15 PM
ADDITIONAL CHARGE: UCSA-POSSESSION OF DRUG PARA - MISD R/O while conducting an administrative search at the CVC South Screening facility, discovered a bag filled with a leafy green substance and a wooden pipe in the Defendant’s belongings. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test on the substance which yielded positive results for THC. The defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.
UCSA - POSS MARIJUANA -MISD
3/27/2014 - 3:21 PM
ADDITIONAL CHARGE: USCA-POSSESSION OF DRUG PARA R/O while conducting an administrative search at a magnetometer outside the Senate Chamber, discovered what appeared to be a green leafy substance that the Defendant removed from his coat pocket. CSS responded to the scene & conducted a field test on the substance which yielded positive results for THC. The defendant was placed under arrest and transported to Headquarters for processing.