|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
MONDAY, JULY 27, 1998
Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the fatal shootings at the U.S. Capitol last Friday, U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) continued his two-year effort to pass legislation increasing the pay of the Capitol Police. "Friday's tragic shooting was a powerful reminder of just how dangerous a job the Capitol Police have," noted Traficant in a letter sent this afternoon to every House Member. "If you share my admiration of the Capitol Police, and believe they deserve a fair level of compensation, I urge you to co-sponsor this bill," said Traficant, a former sheriff.
Last November Traficant introduced legislation, H.R. 2828, to establish a pay and benefits package for the Capitol Police equivalent to that of the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service, one of the highest paid federal law enforcement agencies. Using rough estimates based on the Capitol Police's fiscal year 1998 budget, and comparisons of current pay schedules, the bill will increase the cost of compensating the Capitol Police by about 5.5 percent, or approximately $4 million a year. "An extra $4 million a year is a small price to pay to ensure that the Capitol Police are compensated in a manner commensurate with their responsibilities, and comparable to what other federal law enforcement agencies are paid," noted Traficant.
Last Friday afternoon a lone gunman rushed into the Capitol building, killed two Capitol Police Officers, Detective John Gibson and Officer J.J. Chestnut, and seriously wounded a tourist. Detective Gibson, despite being mortally wounded, was able to return fire and disable the gunman. "Detective Gibson and Officer Chestnut were typical of the men and women who serve on the force," said Traficant. "Because of their courage and commitment to duty, countless lives were saved. I can't think of a more fitting way for Congress to show how much it cares about the Capitol Police than to pass H.R. 2828."
Traficant, who was sheriff of Mahoning County (OH) from 1981 to 1985, has been an outspoken advocate for the Capitol Police. In 1993 he began a lobbying campaign to convince Congressional leaders to allow the rank and file of the Capitol Police to form a union. That effort ended successfully when Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act in 1995 which granted collective bargaining rights to many Congressional employees, including Capitol Police officers. For the past two years he has been working to increase the pay and benefits of the force. In addition to introducing H.R. 2828, Traficant wrote to the House Appropriations Committee last February requesting increased funding for the Capitol Police. H.R. 2828 has 17 cosponsors.
"The brave men and women of the Capitol Police put their lives on the line 365 days a year," asserted Traficant. "They are part of a highly trained and professional law enforcement agency. They approach their jobs with a great deal of dedication and patriotism. The least Congress can do is ensure that they receive the same pay and benefits as other comparable law enforcement agencies."2009