Washington, DC – U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced on Tuesday that the law enforcement agency would be opening up field offices in Florida and California to investigate threats against members of Congress in their home districts.
“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” USCP Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement released on July 6. “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”
The creation of regional USCP field offices comes after lawmakers criticized the Capitol Police for not doing more to keep them safe in their home districts and when they are off Capitol Hill, according to The Hill.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has been at the forefront of the push to increase personal protection budgets for members of Congress in the wake of the Capitol riot.
Pelosi commissioned retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honoré to conduct a review of Capitol security after the breach on Jan. 6.
Honoré determined that the police force tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol complex was woefully ill-equipped to handle the “volume and nature” of the threats directed at the lawmakers and the U.S. Capitol building.
“The USCP is not postured to track, assess, plan against, or respond to this plethora of threats due to significant capacity shortfalls, inadequate training, immature processes, and an operating culture that is not intelligence-driven,” Honoré’s security report read, according to NBC News.
Chief Pittman also announced a series of other changes for the Capitol Police, The Hill reported.
USCP has purchased riot gear, including helmets and batons, to replace the equipment the report found had been stored improperly and damaged, according to the chief’s statement.
The Civil Disturbance Unit that is tasked with handling protests or other civil unrest at the Capitol complex has begun training with the National Guard, The Hill reported.
Chief Pittman also said that some USCP officials have been sent to Seattle and Virginia Beach for additional training.
The department also said in the statement that it had improved its intelligence sharing within the department and with other law enforcement agencies, The Hill reported.
“Internally, the Department has vastly increased the information shared with sworn officers about obtained intelligence and event planning,” the statement read. “Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders.”
Honoré’s report also called for the Capitol Police to immediately fill its current 233 job openings.
In response, the USCP statement said the department had begun to advertise for new recruits using both social media and traditional media.
The task force evaluating Capitol security also recommended that USCP beef up staffing and improve their own intelligence-gathering operations, NBC News reported.
The report called for the addition of 874 positions “to fill assessed capability gaps, which includes intelligence specialists, operational planners, supervisors, Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) personnel and trainers, and dignitary protection agents, to name just a few.”
The task force recommended the creation of a permanent DC-area quick reaction force, NBC News reported.
Chief Pittman announced a new Critical Incident Response Plan that would allow Capitol Police to quickly mobilize local, state, and federal manpower, including the Department of Defense, should the need arise again.
USCP is still working with Congressional oversight staff and the Capitol Police Board to figure out a way for the department to request National Guard assistance without board approval, The Hill reported.