Internal U.S. Capitol Police documents marked as “law enforcement sensitive” containing maps from near where a congressional leader lives to a relative’s house were found near a curb recently in front of a 7-Eleven convenience store in Washington.
The 10 pages of U.S. Capitol Police dignitary protection unit papers also include information on the security systems in place at a hospital along the mapped route in Maryland.
The documents, which contain the name of a relative of House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, were dated Nov. 19 and appear to detail Mr. Hoyer’s travels two days later. The papers were found near a curb on Maryland Avenue and Eighth Street in Northeast Washington by an employee of The Washington Times.
The Capitol Police, which has a special unit that protects the leaders of Congress, said that the release of the information never compromised security and that the data, while marked sensitive, is publicly available.
“We have determined that there was no security breach, nor was there ever any danger to the member [of Congress],” said Capitol Police spokesman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.
“The potential for this to occur exists with every agency,” she said.
But Gary Poole, director of security for the Shore Health System in Easton, Md., called the information release troubling and said he planned to call for an explanation from Capitol Police officials.
The documents found on the roadside included information on the hospital’s internal systems that Mr. Poole said would not be released to the public.
“I’m very concerned information was out there to be found like this,” he said. “I don’t think it’s information that I would ever share.”
Mr. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
Experts who reviewed the papers at the request of The Times said the documents did not pose security risks but said the information wouldn’t have been considered public.
” ‘Law enforcement sensitive’ is a classified document that needs to be maintained and controlled within a law enforcement community,” said Marty Ficke, director of operations at SES Resources International Inc. and a retired special agent in charge for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York.
“One of my concerns about these documents from a law enforcement perspective is that they disclose and provide unnecessary insight into law enforcement methods and procedures.”
Security expert and former Secret Service agent Joseph LaSorsa called the incident a “simple mistake.” He said that there was no security breach involved because travels outlined in the documents had already occurred and that the security details usually change their routes.
Sgt. Schneider said that in response to the incident, police have “reiterated” their policies on the handling and storage of law enforcement sensitive information.
However, she noted that police typically classify most of their internal documents as “law enforcement sensitive.”
“These documents were marked [law enforcement] sensitive as a standard practice and way of conducting [Capitol Police] business,” she said.
But sensitive law enforcement marking “does not necessarily indicate that the information contained there is such,” she added.
“Our documents are composed to purposely safeguard against an inadvertent release of information and do not contain information that would associate it with the member,” she said.
Still, The Times was able to identify one of the people named in the document as a relative of Mr. Hoyer’s through a simple Internet search of that person’s name.