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Senate Swears In New Head Of Security After Insurrection Shakeup

Fencing remains in place around the U.S. Capitol complex after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Tasos Katopodis
Getty Images
Fencing remains in place around the U.S. Capitol complex after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Karen Gibson begins her duties Monday as the U.S. Senate's sergeant-at-arms, the chief law enforcement officer for the upper chamber.

She replaces Michael Stenger, who resigned following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Gibson is a retired Army lieutenant general who served as director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command. She'll be joined in the SAA office by new Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Kelly Fado, who was an aide to former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, and by a new chief of staff, Jennifer Hemingway.

According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., it's the first time since the office was created in 1789 that its leaders are all women.

On the Senate floor Monday, Schumer called it a "great and historic day."

The sergeant-at-arms, formally known as the sergeant-at-arms and doorkeeper of the Senate, "is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, as well as protection of the members themselves," according to the Senate's website.

The office is also responsible for the Senate's computers and information technology support systems as well as administering the Senate's recording and photography studios, the various media galleries and other administrative services.

Along with the House sergeant-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol, the Senate sergeant-at-arms is a member of the Capitol Police Board, which oversees the U.S. Capitol Police, whose conduct has come under scrutiny following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Gibson worked with retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré "to identify actions or decisions that could be taken immediately to improve the near-term security of the Capitol and its members" after the Jan 6. breach, according to Schumer's office.

Honoré's review urged Congress to overhaul security measures, including hiring hundreds of new police officers, installing a new mobile fencing system at the Capitol complex and the creation of a rapid-response force.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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