The number of threats against members of Congress has tripled since 2017, with nearly 9,500 reported just last year. Many, come in the form of verbal attacks.
“A member of Congress was threatened in a gruesome voicemail that asked if she had ever seen what a 50 caliber shell does to a human head. Another member of Congress, an Iraq war veteran, and Purple Heart recipient received threats that left her terrified for her family,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a speech commemorating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Garland says we can't risk this kind of action becoming normalized. "That is dangerous for people’s safety. And it is deeply dangerous for our democracy,” he said.
While the U.S. Capitol Police are tasked with protecting lawmakers, Chief Tom Manger says they face a shortage of nearly 450 agents.
"We're going to have to nearly double the number of agents that work those threat cases. We've increased the number over the last couple of years by necessity, but even now it needs to be increased even more," Manger said during testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee.
Despite that level of security, some lawmakers have sought outside protection.
"That means doing intelligence research before events, it means identifying people who are sending you hate mail...you're building security into your day-to-day life," said Chris Ryan, managing director of K2 Integrity.
Ryan has helped oversee both physical and online security for political clients. He blames the growth in threats against them on a general increase in misbehavior.
"You're seeing a level of behavior across the population that you just never really saw before. Whether it's built-up frustration from COVID, or just a general coarsening of American society, no one really knows exactly what's happening, but there's no doubt that it's happening, and it's certainly happening in politics," Ryan told CBN News.
He advises elected officials to make security a priority beginning on day one.
"Typically security firms get drawn in when something has already happened, and we are now reacting to something as opposed to being proactive. So we advise everyone be proactive in your security," Ryan said.
He calls the angry political rhetoric coming from both the American public and politicians extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, he sees no indication of this current trend easing up, especially with the 2022 midterms just around the corner.