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Capitol Police Say They Still Don’t Have Plan For Handling Another Riot

Washington, DC – The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) acting chief has apologized to Congress, but not her officers, for the department leadership’s failures leading up to and during the Capitol riot and morale in the rank-and-file has hit a new low as the union prepares to hold a vote of “no confidence.”

The police department’s leadership also hasn’t given officers a new game plan for what to do if rioters tried to breach the Capitol building again, CNN reported.

U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman formally apologized to Congress on Jan. 26 for her department’s failure to properly prepare for the Capitol riot.

Chief Pittman was appointed to replace former USCP Chief Steven Sund, who resigned in disgrace a day after the Capitol riot, The Hill reported.

In her apology, the chief admitted that police brass “knew that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.”

USCP Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chairman Gus Papathanasiou expressed his outrage about the way the officers had been treated in a statement.

“The disclosure that the entire executive team (former Chief Sund, now Acting Chief Pittman, and Assistant Chief Thomas) knew what was coming but did not better prepare us for potential violence, including the possible use of firearms against us, is unconscionable,” the statement read. “The fact they did not relay this information to the officers on duty prior to the insurrection is inexcusable.”

One Capitol Police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot and another officer committed suicide a couple of days later.

CNN reported that union leadership was ready to hold a vote of “no confidence” against Chief Pittman but officers pushed back and said they thought it would be disrespectful given that USCP Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after he was cracked over the head with a fire extinguisher by rioters, was lying in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them,” Papathanasiou said. “The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable. Their inaction cost one officer his life and we have almost 140 responding officers injured. They have a lot to atone for.”

The “vote of no confidence” has been scheduled for next week, according to CNN.

Officers said they are all exhausted from the 12-hour shifts and that many of them are still recovering from injuries they got protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“We are just a number on a schedule to them, not human beings,” one police source told CNN. “Just walk around and look at the officers’ faces to see the bags under their eyes.”

One officer complained that as badly as things went during the riot, the USCP leadership still haven’t come up with a plan should it happen again.

“After the events that occurred on the 6th, this department still doesn’t have a contingency plan,” the officer said. “Their plan is to put the same officers back on the front line to risk their lives once again while they sit in their ivory towers and fail us once again.”

Officers told CNN that they were reluctant to seek counseling in the wake of Capitol riot out of fear they’ll be declared “unfit for duty” and benched.

“[Officers] are tired while being on edge,” one Capitol Police officer said. “It’s always in the back of [our] minds because reaction time decreases with lack of sleep.”

Officers said they were showing up for the rest of the officers on the force, CNN reported.

“We’re coming to work for the next person we work with,” an officer said. “We come to work and try to take care of each other. We’re all going through it. Everybody is. Gotta think about the person next to you.”

Sources said officers were trying to take time off without actually seeking treatment for mental health issues, CNN reported.

“If you asked for time off because you’re going through something, they give you time off as long as you don’t say buzzwords like ‘depression’ and stuff like that, you can keep your gun,” one officer said.

USCP has said it has tried to make life easier for its officer since the riot by feeding them hot meals and providing hotel rooms when staffing demands don’t give them enough time to get home and sleep between shifts, CNN reported.

But officers who are staying in hotels don’t feel like they’re getting any breaks and they’re worried it’s only going to get worse.

Congress just asked for additional protection from Capitol Police and officers will be deployed to DC-area train stations and airports on busy member travel days.

Officers told CNN they used to love their job, and now they’re counting the days until retirement.

And they’re worried about what happens if there’s another riot in the Capitol complex because nothing has changed as far as their preparation for a violent crowd.

“It’s just laughable stupid to me,” an officer told CNN. “The lockdown wasn’t the problem that day. It was locked. They just busted windows and climbed in.”

He said USCP needed to tell its police force how they are supposed to engage the rioters if such an event were to happen again.

“They need to let these guys know what to do if [protesters] come again. … Whether they’d be supported if they upped the level of force,” the source told CNN. “There were command-level people telling [officers] to put their sticks away. One came up and grabbed his arm … and said stop, stop, we don’t do that to protesters. Officers are confused, they’re getting mixed signals.”

“These guys need to know if you get jumped on, are you going to back us up if I take out my stick? … [Officers] need to know what you want. Will you support us if we’re in a hostile situation and we start busting people up the head?” he asked.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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