Capitol Police is setting up field offices in California and Florida, with more states likely to follow. I don't understand why though. The official reason given is to "track threats", but we already have the FBI. Doesn't the FBI track threats? Why does the Capitol Police need to do it as well?
According to the United States Capitol Police, they are setting up these regional field offices as part of their response to the Jan 6th attack on the Capitol, to help investigate threats to members of Congress. Although the FBI and other agencies can investigate these sorts of threats, the USCP is specifically charged with protecting members of Congress and their families throughout the US.
From their July 6th press release, found here:
Throughout the last six months, the United States Capitol Police has been working around the clock with our Congressional stakeholders to support our officers, enhance security around the Capitol Complex, and pivot towards an intelligence-based protective agency.
Here are examples of the improvements the United States Capitol Police has made since January 6;
Enhanced Member Protection
The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region. The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.
This was likely done under the authority of 2 U.S. Code § 1966, which is the law that defines the mission of the USCP:
(a)Authority of the Capitol Police
Subject to the direction of the Capitol Police Board, the United States Capitol Police is authorized to protect, in any area of the United States, the person of any Member of Congress, officer of the Congress, as defined in section 4101(b) of this title, and any member of the immediate family of any such Member or officer, if the Capitol Police Board determines such protection to be necessary.
The United States Capitol Police has the mission of providing protection to Congress both inside and outside of the Capitol. The FBI has a completely separate mission. Although the USCP most likely coordinate with the FBI for intelligence gathering, the USCP will have its own offices that specialize in watching for and reacting to threats to the individual members of Congress.
In DC, there is an unwritten rule that agencies should expend funds allocated to them or be subject to a reduction in future allocations. Congress has given them funds to expand, and they are spending those funds. Sorry if that's a bit cynical, but it's the way DC works.
But the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) is in a somewhat unique position of questionable constitutionality under the separation of powers doctrine. The USCP reports only to the legislative branch yet exercises law-enforcement powers normally reserved to the executive branch (including the FBI, Secret Service, Marshall's Service, etc.) All of these other executive agencies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and are subject to oversight by all three branches of government. But the Capitol Police claim they are not subject to FOIA and have resisted attempts to obtain records related to January 6th under the older federal common law right of access to records, by means including claiming the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia lacks jurisdiction over them in such common law actions.
Even the neutral and fact base Roll Call describes the USCP as "shrouded in secrecy," and the organization continues to shield the identity of the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, bucking calls for transparency in police use of force.
Expanding secret police powers is commonly resorted to when a government becomes concerned with its ability to control public opinion. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not immune to such tactics, as illustrated by the FBI COINTELPRO projects for surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic American political organizations. Since COINTELPRO became public, substantial additional restrictions on FBI investigations involving political activities have been implemented. Thus, one plausible (though unproven) explanation for USCP needing to independently "track threats" might be to give them the ability to conduct politically sensitive surveillance that the FBI is restricted from doing.
As the USCP has sought to keep its operations secret, there are certainly reasons for concern in expanding it as a federal police presence outside the constitutionally granted enumerated powers of congress. The Capitol Police has typically address duties related to the protection of members of congress by requesting assistance from federal and local State authorities in the respective executive branches. I see no clear indication such expansion is permitted or necessary under the law.