Capitol Police, taking heat for Jan. 6, challenges Congress to pay for fixes


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By Karoun Demirjian,

Samuel Corum AFP/Getty Images

Capitol Police officers stand outside to the Capitol Rotunda on April 29.

The Capitol Police on Friday sought to shift the onus for improving security at the U.S. Capitol to Congress, issuing a testy response to its inspector general’s latest examination of the failures that allowed insurrectionists to breach the complex Jan. 6 in their failed bid to overturn President Donald Trump’s election defeat.

An interim report from Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, the third produced thus far in his ongoing investigation, concludes the force lacked “adequate resources” to properly assess risks posed to the Capitol, according to a report by CBS News, which obtained a copy of Bolton’s findings. But in a statement acknowledging its shortcomings, the Capitol Police argued that implementing the inspector general’s recommendations will “require resources and authorization” from Congress, and that the agency has taken “significant steps” to make other necessary changes in the meantime.

The report has not been made public. Bolton is scheduled to testify about his findings before the House Administration Committee on Monday.

[Trump’s grip on GOP looms as support falters for independent probe of Capitol riot]

The budding blame game comes as lawmakers try to hammer out the contours of a supplemental appropriations bill to pay for security improvements that a succession of officials have identified as vital to protect against threats.

In March, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore — commissioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead a review of Capitol security — recommended expanding the campus police force by over 850 positions, with most going to specialized positions such as intelligence gathering. Acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda D. Pittman also has told a subcommittee of the House Appropriations panel that the police needed “access to additional resources — both manpower and physical assets.”

Those recommendations, however, have been coupled with a measure of outrage from lawmakers, who have demanded to know why the Capitol Police apparently failed Jan. 6 to effectively use the resources officers had at their disposal.

In his two earlier interim reports to Congress, Bolton dinged Capitol Police leaders for falling short in intelligence gathering, for failing to keep accurate records of the riot-control equipment they had on hand, and for failing to train officers how to use weapons that could have better held back the Jan. 6 crowds.

[Inspector general says police order to hold back riot-control weapons compromised Capitol on Jan. 6]

In Friday’s unsigned statement, the Capitol Police mounted a defense of its recent efforts to course correct.

“All recommended policy updates are being completed,” the statement said. “. . . The Department has documented training requirements for its agents and analysts. Information from field agents is now promptly distributed within the Department, including to the Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division, which provides threat warning information and analysis of intelligence.”

Jonathan Ernst

Reuters

Capitol Police and National Guard personnel operate a checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol.

But officials insisted that their best efforts are likely to fall short of expectations without additional funding to address a mushrooming portfolio of threats against Congress and its members.

In their statement, Capitol Police officials noted that during 2020, the Secret Service, tasked with protecting the president, fielded approximately 8,000 targeted threats, which were handled by a team of over 100 analysts. “During the same time period, the USCP, which has just over 30 agents and analysts, had approximately 9,000 cases,” the statement said.

They also argued that if Congress wanted the Capitol Police to create a stand-alone intelligence unit — as both Bolton and Honore have recommended — that the agency “would require additional resources for new employees, training and vehicles, as well as approval from Congressional stakeholders.”

Details of the supplemental spending plan, expected to cost about $2 billion, have yet to be finalized. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said during an event at the Brookings Institution on Thursday that she expects the bill to come to the House floor this month.

The Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News and Analysis


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