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US Capitol police investigated more than 8,000 threats to lawmakers in 2023

US Capitol police investigated more than 8,000 threats to lawmakers in 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
US Capitol police investigated more than 8,000 threats to lawmakers in 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

US Capitol police investigated more than 8,000 threats to lawmakers in 2023, according to new data released by the department.

In 2023, the USCP’s Threat Assessment Section investigated 8,008 cases, Capitol Police said. This amounts to an increase of about 500 cases from the previous year, the department added.

USCP said both Democratic and Republican members of Congress “receive a wide range of threats and concerning statements that are sent through the mail, email, telephone, and social media/the internet,” with threats typically increasing in election years.

However, some of the uptick in threat assessment cases in recent years can be attributed to social media users having a “false sense of anonymity” online, the USCP added.

“With the political conventions, Member campaigns, and many issues being debated on Capitol Hill, this is going to be a very busy year for our special agents,” USCP Assistant Chief of Protective and Intelligence Operations Ashan M. Benedict said in a news release. “Our team is dedicated to putting all of our resources into protecting the Congress while we continue to grow in order to keep up with our expanding mission.”

The figures come after a 72-year-old man from Florida was charged with threatening to kill Rep Eric Swalwell and his children in several voicemail messages.

Michael Shapiro allegedly called the lawmaker’s Washington DC office on the evening of 19 December from his home in Greenacres, according to court records, and left five threatening voicemail messages in which he told Rep Swalwell “I’m gonna come after you and kill you” and “I’m gonna kill your children.”

Meanwhile, a New Hampshire man was indicted last month after allegedly sending threatening text messages to three presidential candidates, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie.

In a separate incident, another man in New Hampshire pleaded guilty to leaving a threatening voicemail at the Washington DC office of Rep Matt Gaetz in October.

In December, the FBI said it was working to address threats to Colorado Supreme Court justices after the court deemed former President Donald Trump ineligible for the state’s Republican primary ballot.

Amid the surge in threats aimed at public officials, the US Capitol police said it is working closely with the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms to improve security for members of Congress at their homes and at congressional events.

Lawmakers and their staff are also receiving security awareness training provided by Capitol Police and the sergeants-at-arms, the force said.