National Security

Capitol Police told not to use most aggressive tactics in riot response, report finds

Capitol Police officers were instructed by leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics when responding to the mob of pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a new report from the agency’s internal watchdog. 

In the report, titled “Review of the Events Surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Takeover of the U.S. Capitol,” which was obtained by The New York Times, Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton found that three days before the mob attack, officials were warned in an intelligence assessment of the potential for violence on Jan. 6 in which “Congress itself is the target.” 

“Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike,” the assessment added, Bolton noted in his report. 

Despite this warning, Bolton said that the agency wrote in a plan for the responses to the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rallies that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress” as it met to certify President Biden’s electoral win. 

In the 104-page document, which has not yet been widely released to the public, Bolton reportedly added that the Capitol Police’s Civil Disturbance Unit, which is specifically responsible for handling large protests, was ordered by supervisors not to use the department’s most powerful tools and techniques, according to the Times. 

Bolton noted that “heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership,” even though officials who responded to the rioting later told Bolton that these tools would have helped police “push back the rioters.”

The Times reported that Bolton found the Civil Disturbance Unit was “operating at a decreased level of readiness as a result of a lack of standards for equipment,” including the absence of functional shields used by Capitol Police officers. 

The report comes as the latest in a series of findings by the inspector general indicating shortcomings in the Capitol Police’s planning and response to threats of violence on Jan. 6. 

Roughly 140 law enforcement officers were injured during the riot, and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick later died after being assaulted by rioters.

Two additional officers who responded to the rioting later died by suicide. 

Bolton is expected to testify on his findings before the House Administration Committee on Thursday. 

The Hill has reached out to the inspector general’s office for additional information on Tuesday’s report. 

Bolton’s office previously said in a report first obtained by CBS News earlier this month that the Capitol Police had severe “deficiencies” in the agency’s handling of intelligence in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 attack, including not passing along “relevant information from outside sources” warning of violence. 

Last week, CNN reported that the inspector general had found that the Capitol Police force was supplied with aging equipment and failed to follow up on additional intelligence ahead of the attack.

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