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Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman laid out the strides the department has taken to enhance security at the Capitol complex on the six-month anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot — including expanding operations outside the Capitol and better coordinating intelligence sharing between agencies.
Pittman said they have implemented a number of recommendations laid out in reports following probes into the security shortcomings that led to the breach, noting they are continuing their work to strengthen capabilities to prevent similar instances in the future. She noted that intelligence sharing and working with other law enforcement agencies is a key component in their efforts to protect the Capitol campus.
“It has been six months since rioters attacked the United States Capitol and our brave police officers and law enforcement partners who fought valiantly to protect elected leaders and the democratic process,” she said in a press release Tuesday.
“Throughout the last six months, the United States Capitol Police has been working around the clock with our Congressional stakeholders to support our officers, enhance security around the Capitol Complex, and pivot towards an intelligence-based protective agency.”
The changes being made include expanding security for lawmakers outside of Washington, with plans to open regional offices in multiple states to ward off threats.
“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” she said. “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”
The USCP will also receive additional training alongside the National Guard — which aided in response to the attack on the Capitol — which will entail “riot training, shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and less-than-lethal exercises” in addition to “use of force, tactical, equipment, leadership, and incident command training.”
Pittman added that the Capitol Police have cemented their “Critical Incident Response Plan,” providing them with a blueprint on how to “mobilize local, state, and federal manpower, including the Department of Defense,” in the event of an unplanned emergency.
IT is also working with Congress and the Capitol Police Board to obtain permission to bypass the bureaucracy required to request National Guard assistance after the delays on obtaining backup seen during the attack, which placed further strain on officers.
In the wake of the riot, the department has also obtained additional equipment including helmets, shields and less-than-lethal munitions and batons so officers are better equipped to handle an attack of that magnitude. The USCP is also working to improve its recruitment efforts and abilities to obtain intelligence on possible threats.
“Internally, the Department has vastly increased the information shared with sworn officers about obtained intelligence and event planning. Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders,” she said.
“The Public Information Office is now engaging with the community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as increasing the number of news releases to keep the media and local community informed.
Pittman went on to say that additional actions need to be taken and they will continue to work to improve the department’s capabilities moving forward.
“Those are just some of the improvements the United States Capitol Police is making, with the support of our Congressional stakeholders, in the wake of the January 6 attack,” she said.
“We honor all the brave men and women who, against all odds, faced down a violent crowd that day and protected our elected leaders and everyone who was in the Capitol Complex.”
Multiple entities including the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and the Senate Committee on Rules, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré’s Task Force, the USCP Office of the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, the Architect of the Capitol, and the USCP Security Services Bureau have all offered recommendations, with the House select committee on Jan. 6 slated to release additional recommendations following its probe.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were highly critical of the security failures seen on Jan. 6, with former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigning following the breach shortly after the attack.
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