Washington, DC – An overwhelming number of U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers voted “no confidence” on Monday for the entire leadership of their department and the union wants congressional leadership to notice.
USCP Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union that represents the rank-and-file officers in the department, called for the vote after USCP Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman formally apologized to Congress for their security failures during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
CNN reported that union leadership was ready to hold a vote of “no confidence” against Chief Pittman last week but officers pushed back and said they thought it would be disrespectful given that USCP Officer Brian Sicknick was lying in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them,” USCP FOP Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said a statement. “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 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.”
The vote was held on Feb. 15 and 657 out of 1050 union members participated, according to NPR.
The results showed that 92 percent of the officers voted “no confidence” in Chief Pittman.
And 96 percent of officers had “no confidence” in her right-hand man, USCP Assistant Chief Chad Thomas, according to a press release that the union sent out after the vote.
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) February 15, 2021
Four other senior officials got “no confidence” votes of 84 percent, 85 percent, 91 percent, and 64 percent, in descending order of rank.
USCP Captain Ben Smith won the day at 97 percent with the highest percentage of officers who didn’t support him, NPR reported.
“The past week of the impeachment trial showed members of Congress, and the entire country, devastating details of the violence that Capitol Police officers faced during the insurrection. It was the darkest day in the history of the Department,” Papathanasiou said in a statement after the votes were counted.
“The results of our No Confidence vote are overwhelming because our leadership clearly failed us. We know because we were there,” he continued.
The union president pointed to Chief Pittman’s apology to Congress as proof that the department’s leadership had failed its officers, NPR reported.
“By Jan. 4, the department knew that the Jan. 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020,” the chief told lawmakers in a closed session in late January. “We 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.”
Papathanasiou said that the USCP leadership who dropped the ball the day of the Capitol riot needed to be held accountable, NPR reported.
“Our leaders did not properly plan for the protest nor prepare officers for what they were about to face. This despite the fact they knew days before that the protest had the potential to turn violent,” the union said in a statement on Feb. 15. “We still have no answers why leadership failed to inform or equip us for what was coming on January 6th. Our lives, as well members of Congress and staff whom we are sworn to protect, were put at risk.”
The union president said he hoped congressional leadership would understand the message being delivered to them by the police officers who fought to keep them safe on Jan. 6, NPR reported.
“The anger in this department is widespread and the trust that has been broken it is not going to be regained,” Papathanasiou said.
He said the union needed new, trustworthy leadership from within its own ranks, excluding everyone currently at the chief, assistant chief, and deputy chief levels, NPR reported.
“We hope Congressional leaders hear the voice of Capitol Police officers and take action,” Papathanasiou said. “We appreciate the kind words we have received since the insurrection, but we need real change at the Department and that starts with a clean slate at the top.”