Washington, DC – The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) and the U.S. House of Representatives sergeant at arms told a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday that they are working to identify any police officers with extremist views on the Capitol police force.
Six USCP officers were disciplined for their actions during the Capitol riot but accusations of extremist cops within the ranks has continued to stoke concerns on Capitol Hill.
U.S. House Sergeant at Arms William Walker, who was appointed after Jan. 6, 2021, told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Jan. 11 that his office had created a potential insider threat awareness program.
Walker said the program had been developed in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHA0 to identify insider threats posed by employees “who do lose their compass,” CNN reported.
“The goal is to have police officers trained as insider threat specialists so we recognize the signs and symptoms and indicators that someone’s allegiance has changed,” he explained.
The sergeant at arms told lawmakers that his office would be briefing the program to the full Capitol Police Board in coming months, CNN reported.
USCP Chief Thomas Manger told the subcommittee that keeping the USCP free of extremist officers “all begins with the hiring process.”
The police chief said background investigations, polygraphs, and social media investigations were also critical to helping make sure the Capitol police is hiring the right candidates, CNN reported.
“After you hire someone, you do need to ensure that you have the kind of checks that are necessary to make sure that there’s not something that has changed in terms of their background,” he explained.
“Having really good in-depth investigations to determine if an officer is involved or engaged in some kind of activity that would lead to a question about their loyalty to our mission — that’s important as well to make sure that those investigations are done thoroughly and decisive actions taken on those cases,” Chief Manger said.
The sergeant at arms also suggested during his testimony that he was also making an effort to “introduce some kind of security clearance for capitol police officers,” CNN reported.
Walker said requiring security clearances would give USCP the opportunity to redo background checks periodically and look for problematic changes to an officer’s mentality.
While the idea of security clearances may sound good in theory, it would create additional barriers to hiring and lengthen the application process for the Capitol police at a time when the department is woefully short on officers.
Chief Manger outraged members of the USCP officers’ union on Jan. 2 when he told FOX News he planned to contract with security guards to fill secondary posts that have always been patrolled by police officers in the past, such as parking garages.
The police chief said his leadership team had “identified posts where we don’t need sworn officers” and said that not every post required an armed police officer.
“We think that if we are able to put contract security guards at some of those posts, that will free up a number of sworn police officers and we can assign them to where they are needed and where we require actually an armed Capitol Police officer,” he said.
Chief Manger told FOX News that USCP has addressed other problems with resources and intelligence failures that were brought to light by the investigations the followed the Capitol riot.
“The one thing that we have not been able to fix, so to speak, are the staffing issues,” the police chief explained. “We’ve lost over 130 officers that have left through either retirements or resignations after Jan. 6.”
“The prior year – 2020 – the national Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy was shut down for 10 months because of Covid, so between not being able to put any academy classes through the prior and with the attrition the way it’s been over the past year, we’re now really about 400 officers short of where we need to be,” he told FOX News.
Chief Manger said USCP leadership planned to put more than 280 new officers through the police academy in 2022.
He claimed that the secondary posts where USCP officers would be replaced by unsworn security guards would largely be in locations where the people in that area had already been checked in, FOX News reported.
USCP Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chairman Gus Papathanasiou called the police chief’s plan a “recipe for disaster,” according to Politico.
“We need to hire more officers — period. The last thing we need are private security contractors who are not trained to our standards,” Papathanasiou said.
Chief Manger told FOX News he still needed to brief the oversight committee on his plan to use security guards, but Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc. posted an advertisement for the “exciting role of an Unarmed Security Officer” for the Capitol Police on New Year’s Day, according to Politico.