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U.S. Capitol Police Chief Resigns In Disgrace After Total Failure To Prepare For Capitol Riot

Washington, DC – U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Steven Sund has agreed to resign his post amid allegations from federal lawmakers and the police union that he underestimated the potential for violence that resulted in the Capitol Building being overrun by rioters on Wednesday.

The Pentagon first offered to provide National Guard manpower to supplement the USCP three days ahead of the anticipated pro-President Trump rally, but Chief Sund declined, the Associated Press reported.

The Justice Department tried to send Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents as the massive mob descended on the Capitol Building on Wednesday, but the chief again refused to accept help, according to the Associated Press.

The 2,300-man department had access to ample resources and had weeks to prepare for what many warned could be an insurrection, but USCP administrators opted to plan a response for nothing more than a free speech demonstration, the Associated Press reported.

According to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, department administrators did not develop a backup plan for what would be done in the event the USCP officers became overrun.

“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – California) said the following day as she called on Chief Sund to resign, the Associated Press reported.

The USCP never erected a hard perimeter around the Capitol Building as the massive crowd convened. They set up barricades on the plaza, but rioters barged through them after officers retreated towards the building, according to the Associated Press.

Rioters ultimately stormed the building and flooded the hallways inside, where they clashed with officers and destroyed property as lawmakers, staff members, and reporters hid beneath chairs and barricaded themselves inside rooms.

One woman was fatally shot by a plainclothes USCP officer after she breached the Capitol and tried to enter the House chamber through a broken window, CBS News reported.

At least 52 people were arrested on Wednesday night as area agencies rushed in to help the overrun USCP.

Over 50 MPD and USCP officers were injured while responding to various incidents associated with the mass gathering, Chief Sund said in a press release on Thursday.

At least one MPD officer was dragged into a crowd of rioters during the mayhem, CBS News reported.

Investigators recovered a cooler of Molotov cocktails, two pipe bombs, and six firearms as they worked for hours to quell the chaos.

USCP Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died on Thursday due to injuries he suffered “while physically engaging with protesters” at the Capitol Building the day prior, the USCP said in a press release.

The department did not elaborate on the injuries he suffered, but two law enforcement officials said he was hit with a fire extinguisher as rioters stormed through the halls of Congress and lawmakers hid beneath their desks, The New York Times reported.

Officer Sicknick was rushed to a local hospital, where his family learned he had a blood clot on his brain and had been placed on a ventilator, his brother, Craig Sicknick, told the Daily Beast.

The veteran officer remained hospitalized until his death at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to the USCP.

USCP Labor Committee Fraternal order of Police (FOP) Chairman Gus Papathanassiou said on the day of Officer Sicknick’s death that the department’s “leadership failed us.”

“The rank and file of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) are frustrated and demoralized by the lack of leadership that undermined the response of law enforcement to the violent events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th,” Papathanassiou wrote in a press release on Thursday.

The FOP called “for leadership change at the highest level,” to include ousting Chief Sund, his assistant chiefs, and his senior command staff.

Papathanassiou said USCP officers “are sickened by the tragic and avoidable events that occurred during the attack on the Capitol.”

“We have several protesters dead, multiple officers injured and the symbol of our Democracy, the U.S. Capitol, desecrated. This never should have happened,” he wrote. “This lack of planning led to the greatest breach of the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812. This is a failure of leadership at the very top.”

Papathanassiou said he is “incredibly proud” of the officers who were working the front lines that day, and credited them for protecting “the lives of hundreds of Members of Congress and their staff.”

“Once the breach of the Capitol building was inevitable, we prioritized lives over property, leading people to safety,” he wrote. “Not one Member of Congress or their staff was injured.”

The FOP chairman said the officers undisputedly did their jobs during the violent uprising.

“Our leadership did not,” he added. “Our officers are experienced and they are dedicated, but they lacked the immediate backup and equipment needed to control the surging crowd as events quickly spiraled out of control.”

Papathanassiou said he and the rest of the USCP rank-and-file officers “demand a charge of leadership.”

“Without a change at the top, we may see more events unfold like those we saw on January 6th,” he wrote. “We cannot leave our officers and the Capitol Hill community they protect, to the mercy of further attacks amid a vacuum of leadership.”

Chief Sund’s office said his resignation will go into effect on Jan. 16, just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, NBC News reported.

The outgoing chief did not mention the Capitol riot in his brief resignation letter, according to ABC News.

“It has been a pleasure and true honor to serve the United States Capitol Police Board and the Congressional community alongside and the women and men of the United States Capitol Police,” the letter read.

Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving also announced their resignations on Thursday, The New York Times reported.

Stenger and Irving were responsible for providing security inside chambers and Congressional office buildings, according to the paper.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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