Wexton Secures Increase in Mental Health and Wellness Funding for the United States Capitol Police in Security Supplemental
USCP program to be renamed the Howard C. ‘Howie’ Liebengood Center for Wellness
Washington, May 14, 2021
Washington, DC -- Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) announced new funding and staff for mental health and wellness for the United States Capitol Police (USCP) as well as the establishment of the Howard C. ‘Howie’ Liebengood Center for Wellness for the USCP in the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, which was introduced in the House today. As a member of the Appropriations Committee Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wexton has been working to secure more funding for mental health services at USCP and to honor USCP Officer Howie Liebengood, a constituent of Congresswoman Wexton, and his service to the Capitol.
“I am extremely proud to announce an increase in funding and staff for the USCP wellness program and its renaming after my constituent, Howie Liebengood. The Capitol Police have been struggling since the January 6 attack and it is clear they need more resources and services tailored for law enforcement trauma. This additional funding and staff will improve the quality of services we are able to provide to these officers and could improve and save lives,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “I’m grateful that we are honoring Howie’s service and sacrifice to the Capitol and I hope this program will signal to USCP officers that it is OK to seek help. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Chairman Ryan for their support for this program and Howie’s family for their strength and their advocacy throughout this process.”
"We greatly appreciate everything Congresswoman Wexton and her staff have done in this incredibly important effort to provide additional mental health services for USCP officers,” said the Liebengood family. “We are tremendously honored that the USCP Wellness Program would bear Howie's name, as he was the kind of person who dedicated his life to helping others, and the type of police officer who cared deeply about the well-being of his colleagues."
Since January 6, the US Capitol Police have experienced one of the hardest and trying times in the organization’s history. Officers have faced trauma from the events of January 6 and the deaths of Officer Brian Sicknick and Officer Howie Liebengood, and the April 2 barricade attack that took the life of Officer Billy Evans. Additionally, USCP officers have been overworked and understaffed since the attacks. Hundreds are still recovering from the physical injuries they sustained on January 6, and many have been struggling with their mental health while working overtime with little to no time off.
The Security Supplemental includes $43.9 million for the Capitol Police response to the January 6 insurrection, including:
Howie C. Liebengood grew up and lived in Vienna, Virginia and was Congresswoman Wexton’s constituent. He was raised in the Capitol Hill community, where his father, Howard S. Liebengood, served for decades as a Hill staffer and later the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Howie received a Bachelor’s Degree at Purdue University, a Master’s Degree at the University of Memphis, and started a career as a race car driver in the 1990s. Howie joined the Capitol Police in 2005 and served as an officer for 15 years. He was assigned to the Senate division and often worked at the Delaware entrance of the Russell Senate Office Building. Howie took his life on January 9, and his death was a direct result of the trauma and strain from the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the around-the-clock shifts in the subsequent days. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Serena McClam Liebengood, his siblings, John Liebengood and Anne Winters, and many family and friends who loved him dearly.
Following Howie’s death, Dr. Liebengood and Howie’s family have been advocating to have Howie’s death designated “in the line of duty;” to support much needed USCP reforms; and to promote positive change around mental health issues for his fellow law enforcement officers, both with the Capitol Police and with law enforcement agencies generally.