The Questions No One Ever Asks and The Answers You Never Hear on January 6th, Blue Wall and more!
Recently, I got the chance to interview U.S. Congressional candidate Chris Palombi currently running for the 5th Congressional district in Maryland. I interviewed Chris about his experience as a US Capitol Police officer and his opinions about certain pertinent topics. The purpose is to shed light on an often misunderstood but necessary job and to spark conversation and create dialogues. Finally, to bring more humanity to the dialogue on this topic which usually doesn't happen.
DT: When were you a police officer?
CP: US Capitol Police Officer, from January 2007 - November 2011
DT: Why did you become a police officer?
CP: I enjoy helping people. Law enforcement isn't just about arresting those committing crimes, but being able to protect and serve those in your community.
DT: What did the typical day consist of?
CP: At Capitol Police, it's relatively quiet (fortunately). Typically stationed at entrance/exit ways and making sure all members of Congress, staff guests, visitors, and dignitaries are able to visit the Capitol complex and conduct their business.
DT: Do you think the blue wall of silence plays a factor in today's police departments? (when police officers don't report their colleagues' misconduct or errors).
CP: Actually, most reports against police officers are done by other police officers. For example, down where I live, it was reported 54% of complaints filed against police officers were done internally. There is nothing more that police officers hate than officers who aren't living up to their job. They are a profession that cannot afford to have one bad apple in the bushel.
DT: How did you muster the moxie to do this job where your life is in danger every day?
CP: Our lives are at threat everyday, but it's subjective to how much of a threat that could be. Could be driving to work, slipping on the stairs, etc.. Either way, my mindset is to live each day to its fullest. When my time comes, it comes.
DT: What did you carry on your duty belt? Any cool gadgets?
CP: Typical law enforcement gadgets. Duty weapon (gun), baton, etc.
DT: In your opinion, what can citizens and police alike do to better understand each other?
CP: Communication is always key. What infuriates me the most is the perception of law enforcement and citizens by the media and tv shows/movies. It gives an ill-perceived perception. If people communicate, talk to each other, they'll see we are all much more alike.
DT: Considering the attention the advent of Black Lives Matter brought to police officers, do you think new media and TV shows like COPS depict a fair and accurate representation of the profession?
CP: The media and TV shows are horrible in depicting law enforcement. COPS depicted a much more fair and accurate representation than mainstream TV shows.
DT: What did you think about the pandemonium of January 6th? (As someone who lived in D.C. at the time, the barbed wire fencing secured around it afterwards was an eyesore and the surrounding closed road was a minor inconvenience). Do you think the security measures were necessary or overkill?
CP: On the day of Jan 6. I think the security measures were not enough. I feel as if the Capitol Police were set up to fail that day, due to lack of leadership decisions which go all the way up to Congressional leadership. Recommend listening to my interview here where I go into more detail: https://omny.fm/shows/the-vince-coglianese-show/the-vince-coglianese-show-chris-palombi-07-29-21
DT: Did you have to mirandize arrestees every single time?
DT: What was the most memorable experience you've had policing the Capitol?
CP: There's a lot. Working dignitary protection, State of the Unions, Obama's inauguration was wild. So many celebrities, having to work a nearly 18-hour day, and standing outside in the bitter cold. I never voted for him, but it was an experience to be a part of for sure.
DT: Did you memorize all those penal codes?
CP: Yes, as much as possible we had to learn and understand the laws.
DT: How did you keep calm in stressful situations?
CP: Training. Unfortunately, this is one area where Law Enforcement should conduct more training, but constant training to stay cognitive and mentally ready for the day is important.
DT: How did you manage to not “take the job home” with you? (Meaning to detach from your work experiences and not let it interfere with your home life).
CP: I made sure when I clocked out, I had to mentally keep myself separated from the job. It's hard to do, but most officers I know had other side things they did to keep themselves occupied. For me, it's family, coaching hockey, and being a website programmer/designer on the side. Enough to keep my mind off the job while off the clock.
DT: What's something you wish the world knew about being a policeman?
CP: Not all police officers are bad people. The media and political activists paint a horrible blanket picture.
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