|Montgomery County Citizen Academy Alumni Association (MCCAAA)
On Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. J. Thomas Manger, Chief, United States Capitol Police spoke to the MCCAAA. Chief Manger began candidly admitting, "I'm a terrible passenger," illustrating his hands-on approach to policing. One anecdote involved him driving to a meeting with one of his captains when they spotted a traffic violation. The captain insisted on issuing a citation, while the Chief acted as backup during the traffic stop. He overheard the driver saying, "I don't know who he is, but he must be important because the Chief is driving him."
The Capitol Police force, tasked with safeguarding the U.S. Capitol and its surroundings, comprises 2,000 officers and 600 civilians operating on an $800 million budget. Unlike other government buildings, the Capitol Building grants unimpeded public access, with only screening for weapons and bombs. There are daily public protests, sometimes escalating into violent clashes with counter-protesters.
The Capitol Police's responsibilities extend to protecting three House office buildings, three Senate office buildings, and three Library of Congress buildings. Additionally, they secure the Botanical Gardens, where rare plants have been stolen. Their jurisdiction covers various other facilities on Capitol Hill, including the Police Headquarters near the Monocle Restaurant.
Chief Manger has ambitious plans to bolster the force by adding 400 officers and 100 civilians by 2025. This expansion is essential to effectively address the 8,000 to 9,000 threats made annually, encompassing verbal threats, bomb threats, and email threats, among others. Notably, officers are assigned to protect senior members of Congress, effectively serving as the Secret Service for Congress. They also offer protection during political conventions, accompany congressional delegations overseas, and arrange security at district offices.
One perk of being the Chief of Police is the parking privileges, and the Chief appreciates having fewer nights spent meeting with disgruntled citizens compared to his tenure as Chief in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties. However, during his 22-year stint as Chief in these counties, he never had to contend with a 4-hour-long fight. Despite the challenges stemming from the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the Capitol Police Department does not face recruitment difficulties. Academy graduates start their careers with an annual salary of $74,000, with some candidates citing their motivation to join being the events of January 6th.
Unlike typical law enforcement crime-fighting duties, the Department's primary focus is protecting Congress. The chief had limited time to discuss the reforms instituted following the January 6th events but acknowledged that the Department had been unprepared. For instance, their riot shields were outdated and damaged, and they encountered issues locating the key to unlock them from a bus.
Chief Manger mentioned his consultancy company and joked that being a consultant was a relief from his responsibility as chief. He just had to give advice and leave town before people took it.
Chief Manger closed with an interesting anecdote involving actor Samuel L. Jackson participating in a labor protest in Montgomery County. Jackson's staff requested that he be taken into custody, placed in a patrol car, and discreetly dropped off around the corner during the protest.
Vivian Wolpers, MCCAAA Program Officer, presents a plaque and gift of appreciation to Chief Manger.
John Thomas Manger is chief of the United States Capitol Police. He had retired as chief of police in Montgomery County, Maryland after a 42-year career, but following the 2021 United States Capitol attack, he was selected to lead the United States Capitol Police, being sworn in on July 23, 2021. Prior to that he was a Public Safety Consultant, as Principal and Co-Founder of the Manger Group LLC, providing public safety consulting and training services.
Chief Manger started his career in law enforcement in January 1977 as an officer with the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department. From 1998 to 2004, Chief Manger served as chief of that department, where he was credited with reorganizing and expanding the department's community policing efforts.
He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Among the honors and awards Chief Manger has received are:
He has also served in national leadership positions, from 2014 to 2018 as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), and from 2013 to 2017 as Vice President of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
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