Capitol Police opening field offices to investigate threats to members of Congress
U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) on Tuesday announced that it is opening regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats to members of Congress as it detailed measures to enhance security efforts in the wake of deadly rioting in January.
“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,” Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.
“We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” Pittman added.
While more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the FBI is still searching for some 300 subjects, including those involved with placing pipe bombs at each party’s national headquarters.
The department said it has been working to implement recommendations from multiple Jan. 6 reviews, including those from the Government Accountability Office, the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General and a House panel.
The various reviews found that the force was operating with aging equipment, failed to follow up on intelligence or widely distribute information to officers, and sidelined the Architect of the Capitol, one of its board members, from assisting with security planning.
Still, the Capitol Police Officers’ Union said the investments in new equipment in addition to the reports’ recommendations did little to address their previous no confidence vote in Pittman, who previously led the force’s intelligence unit.
“Buying long-overdue helmets and shields, and accepting report recommendations for training doesn’t show leadership, it shows a desire to escape the consequences of the very real leadership collapse that day,” union chair Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement.
“Individual officers fought hard on January 6th and succeeded in protecting every single member of Congress and their staff. We did our jobs. Our leaders failed us.”
The new regional offices come as lawmakers have been putting increasing pressure on Capitol Police to provide more personal protection for lawmakers, even when back in their districts.
It also comes as lawmakers have been putting increasing pressure on Capitol Police to provide more personal protection for lawmakers, even when back in their districts.
Capitol Police said in May that threats against members of Congress have more than doubled — increasing 107 percent — since last year.
“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,” Pittman stated. “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.”
Capitol Police said it has also purchased new helmets and batons for its forces, as well as shields, which its watchdog previously found were improperly stored and damaged.
The department said its Civil Disturbance Unit has also begun training with the National Guard and sent officers to attend additional training in Seattle and Virginia Beach, Va.
Capitol Police also said it was increasing its intelligence sharing with officers.
“Internally, the Department has vastly increased the information shared with sworn officers about obtained intelligence and event planning,” Capitol Police added.
“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.”
–Rebecca Beitsch contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:33 p.m.