Memo by U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine to members of the U.S. Capitol Police Force, February 2014
Members of the press who cover Congress play a unique role in our democratic system of government. The First Amendment rights of the media allow them to report on the workings of Congress. The image and perception of the USCP is continuously developed through mass media coverage and our first-hand interactions with members of the media and the public during routine and high profile events.
In the course of carrying out the responsibilities of the USCP, employees of the Department and members of the press frequently interact. The Department cooperates fully and impartially, in a transparent manner with the media, to disseminate factual information. It is our responsibility to fully understand their First Amendment rights and facilitate their ability to obtain information considered to be in the public domain in a manner consistent with the procedures established by the Department.
The Public Information Officer (PIO) serves as the designated point of coordination for the dissemination of information and ensures proper continuity, liaison, and cooperation between the Department and the media. The PIO may be requested through Communications. The following guidelines should routinely be applied in a courteous manner by all employees of the Department when interacting with the media:
• Provide basic information about an event, such as the type of event, date, location (i.e., traffic accident at 10:00 am at the Rayburn Horseshoe).
• Media has at least the same rights as the public to take photos or record video in or from public areas with handheld cameras.
• The media is permitted in an area closer than the general public (inside the outer perimeter) and the established press area should safely afford a view of the scene without interfering with law enforcement operations.
• Media may move freely outside of the established press area, and can go anywhere the general public is permitted to go without blocking hallways, streets, sidewalks, etc. and comply with applicable law, rule, or regulation.
• Members of the media may be directed to move if they are in an area of immediate danger, in a crime scene, or in an area where their presence would hinder law enforcement operations.
• Under no circumstances should an employee of the USCP place their hand over a camera lens or attempt to obstruct the media’s view of a scene.
Designated free press areas on U.S. Capitol Grounds can be found on the accompanying map and are listed below:
1. Delaware & Constitution Avenues, NE (Upper Senate Park)
2. Reflecting Pool North at D Street, NE
3. Reflecting Pool South between New Jersey & Delaware Avenues, NE
4. West Front grassy area (near Northwest Drive)
5. West Front grassy area (near Southwest Drive)
6. Swamp Site
7. Elm Tree Site