The Capitol Police have faced unprecedented challenges this year, with the violent failed insurrection this past January and the fatal confrontation at a security barrier earlier this month. At least four Capitol Police officers have died in 2021 in as many months, with at least two suicides.
That didn't stop Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska from using the emergency system twice, just to see how quickly Capitol Police would arrive.
NEW: A Republican congressman made 2 false emergency calls to Capitol Police last week -- just to test how quickly… https://t.co/Dwwn3Nvc44— Jennifer Bendery (@Jennifer Bendery) 1618937841.0
Fortenberry told Capitol Police he'd be testing the emergency button to summon them, so when he pressed it a first time, they didn't respond. As a result, Fortenberry pressed it a second time, indicating he wasn't just testing the button, but the response time of the police.
One anonymous Capitol Police officer told Jennifer Bendery of HuffPost:
"The Department is already overworked and hypervigilant for actual threats. Morale cannot get any worse. This sort of behavior from a member or their staff is reprehensible."
Fortenberry's chief of staff, Andrew Braner, told the outlet:
"The Congressman strongly supports the Capitol Police, which is why we constructively worked through an unfortunate delay during a test of the duress alarm system with the police on the phone."
"Unfortunate" is not the word Fortenberry's critics used to describe the situation.
This is disgusting. And completely believable. #VoteBlue2022 https://t.co/YbwJtEEQVq— annie tibeau (@annie tibeau) 1618945495.0
Republicans have lost their damn minds. Prove me wrong. 👀 https://t.co/jrNMEKuG8e— Monica Fraker (@Monica Fraker) 1618945760.0
These ppl have no sense https://t.co/4bO9NI3emD— Dawn Truman (@Dawn Truman) 1618945704.0
Many questioned the legality of Fortenberry's actions.
Isn’t this illegal? https://t.co/GCvRodO5ul— ©arolBlues 🏡 🎶 (@©arolBlues 🏡 🎶) 1618945468.0
Dumbass. If you or I made a false 911 call, we would be charged! https://t.co/Lhr8jf7xnk— LockUpTrump (@LockUpTrump) 1618944962.0
isn’t making phony calls to 911 illegal? https://t.co/nWrYJP57Id— Matt Gabriele (@Matt Gabriele) 1618942146.0
Others were simply stunned.
I'm sorry, WHAT? https://t.co/YUrZc7pwxW— AJ - Huggin' again (@AJ - Huggin' again) 1618944633.0
What the actual ... ? He should be held responsible for this. https://t.co/XUZi8sHPYm— BHM Indivisible (@BHM Indivisible) 1618974137.0
Fortenberry is expected to exercise greater caution in the future.