Washington, DC – U.S. Capitol Police officials told Congressional leaders that they think the razor-wire topped fence around the U.S. Capitol Building should stay there until at least September because there continued to be new threats.
Sources told the Associated Press that police officials said they have continued to actively track threats against lawmakers and the U.S. Capitol complex.
The threats included online chatter about extremist groups returning to the nation’s capital, according to the source.
How credible and specific the threats were varied, the Associated Press reported.
Police officials told lawmakers they needed the fence in place as a barrier to prevent a repeat of the Capitol riot that occurred on Jan. 6, the source said.
But despite the recommendations from law enforcement, there continued to be a push to remove the unsightly structure, the Associated Press reported.
Community members and some lawmakers were furious when Capitol Police refused to open the gates during a recent snowstorm to let neighborhood children sled as has always been a tradition in the nation’s capital, WRC reported.
Dozens of members of Congress have said they’re tired of the fence and would like to see it removed.
That push included a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and signed by more than 40 Republican lawmakers, the Associated Press reported.
It was sent amidst rumors that the concertina-wire topped metal fence might become a permanent structure.
The letter called for the fence to come down and the thousands of National Guard troops that have been protecting the Capitol since riot to be sent home, the Associated Press reported.
“It’s time for healing and it’s time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward,” the letter read.
U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has called for “vast improvements” to Capitol complex security that included a permanent fence, the Associated Press reported.
“I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” Chief Pittman said in January.
But with a record-breaking-high vote of “no confidence” against Chief Pittman and her entire leadership team on Monday by the Capitol Police officers’ union, it was unclear as to how much sway the acting police chief’s recommendation would have.
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.
The Senate scheduled a hearing to grill the disgraced security chiefs, who have since resigned their posts, on what happened to let the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol occur.
Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper Michael Stenger, and former U.S. House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving, all of whom resigned in disgrace after the riot, have all been ordered to appear on Feb. 23, according to The Hill.
The joint hearing of the Senate’s Rules Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will also include testimony from DC Metropolitan Acting Police Chief Robert Contee, whose heroic officers rushed to the U.S. Capitol building to fight back the mob after Capitol Police security efforts failed.
“The security failures that led to the breach endangered not just the Vice President and the Congress, but the peaceful, democratic transfer of power itself,” lawmakers wrote in their letter requesting the former security chiefs’ appearance, according to The Hill.
“The American people deserve a complete accounting of those failures,” the letter read.