Washington, DC – The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) has asked that the deployment of some 5,200 National Guard troops helping to protect the Capitol building be extended by at least another 60 days.
Defense department officials confirmed that the request had been made and said that the Pentagon was reviewing the plan, the Associated Press reported.
Three officials told The Washington Post that if the request is approved, it will keep National Guard members on duty in the nation’s capital through May.
D.C. National Guard would not confirm the request or its details.
“The current mission extends to March 12,” D.C. National Guard Spokesman Captain Edwin Nieves told The Washington Post. “We do not have an authorized extension of that mission at this time.”
National Guardsmen are staffing a perimeter around the U.S. Capitol complex that was established by a razor-wire fence built after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed surprise and dismay at the news of the Capitol Police’s requested extension, The Washington Post reported.
“It was our expectation that the additional forces would be leaving now,” Bowser said.
The mayor said Capitol Police haven’t kept the city in the loop on their security plans, The Washington Post reported.
“We don’t know why additional forces have been requested until May…. It was our expectation that the National Guard support would be lessened significantly around this time,” she said.
There are almost 40 local and federal law enforcement agencies in the nation’s capital that regularly work together to pull off major, national events and city officials have said the fence and the thousands of National Guard troops are unnecessary overkill.
U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) said the 60-day extension was requested in the last 36 hours and National Guard officials are figuring out how to fulfill the request should it be granted by the Pentagon, WRC reported.
Several governors called home their National Guard troops after the riot when it was learned they were being mistreated and had been told to rest in a parking garage.
Slotkin said the National Guard was looking for volunteers from states around the country to supplement if the Pentagon approved the Capitol Police’s request for an extension.
She said members of Congress had concerns that USCP had no security plan to keep them safe after what happened on Jan. 6, WRC reported.
“We want to understand what the plan is,” the congresswoman said. “None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”
The union that represents Capitol Police officers has expressed similar concerns.
The request for a two-month extension came one day after U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman announced she was beefing up security at the Capitol after intelligence picked up threats from “an identified militia group” that was planning another attack.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the department said in a statement released on March 3.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4. We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” the statement continued.
“Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol,” USCP said. “We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”