WASHINGTON — The recent early morning attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband has triggered a renewed focus on lawmaker safety. Paul Pelosi, the speaker's husband, was hit in the head with a hammer, during a break-in early on Friday.
According to police, David DePape broke into the home of the House Speaker early Friday morning, claiming he was on a "suicide mission" and had plans to target other politicians.
DePape told police he wanted to take the Democratic leader hostage and "break her kneecaps" to show other members of Congress there were "consequences to actions," authorities said on Monday.
So, have the number of threats against lawmakers been on the rise? To find out, we turned to the U.S. Capitol Police.
Total USCP Cases For Threats, Concerning Statements Against Members of Congress By Year:
- 2017: 3,939
- 2018: 5,206
- 2019: 6,955
- 2020: 8,613
- 2021: 9,625
A spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police released preliminary data for 2022, showing that between January 1 and March 23, there were 1,820 cases opened up by the USCP Threat Assessment Team for threats or concerning statements.
The USCP spokesperson said that the department is "guided by what the Supreme Court has held constitutes a threat: 'Those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.'"
In a Tuesday statement, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger called the Pelosi attack an "alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today's contentious political climate."
Manger said that the Department is "on track" to hire nearly 280 officers by the end of the year. The statement also called for "more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for Members of Congress."
"During this time of heightened political tension," the statement read in part. "We continue to monitor thousands of cases across the country-- in an effort to stop potential threats before they make headlines. During the past five years, roughly 12% of cases -- in which we identified people making threats -- have been prosecuted. We hope to see more of these cases prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
A spokesperson for USCP said that cases are typically for single threats or concerning statements, although it's possible that some cases have multiple communications.