Capitol Police board lists improvements since Jan. 6, but says workforce ‘stretched thin’
A U.S. Capitol Police board report published on Wednesday lists improvements the agency has made close to a year since the Jan. 6 insurrection, but said that between the fallout from the attack and the concurrent COVID-19 pandemic, its workforce is “stretched thin.”
House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson, Capitol Architect J. Brett Blanton and Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger cited improvements in five specific areas: operational planning, equipment and personnel, its Civil Disturbance Unit, training and intelligence and incident command.
Among the specific upgrades were providing staff with new hard riot gear, adding more supplies to its equipment orders, such as new shields and dedicated response vehicles, and hiring a former Secret Service official who will work with the agency “to help oversee a new department-wide operational planning process.”
Other measures included bulking up staffing for its Training Services Bureau, plans to hire an intelligence director for the agency, and providing more well-being services to officers.
Politico first covered the report on Tuesday.
The Capitol Board noted that while improvements had been made to the agency, they had also lost 136 officers since Jan. 6.
“This is in addition to the 175 officers who are on some form of approved leave, to include Family and Medical Leave and leave associated with January 6th. This fact, along with the temporary closure of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) as a result of the global pandemic, have contributed to the USCP’s shortfall of 447 officers, causing a rise in mandatory overtime requirements and adding stress to a work force already stretched thin,” the board said in its report.
Noting that staff shortages were the “biggest challenge facing” the agency, the board noted it had taken steps to address this by contracting security personnel “to staff posts that the USCP has identified as suitable for security officer coverage” and placing a greater focus on employee wellness.
Overall, the board said that more than 90 of the 103 recommendations issued by the Office of the Inspector General within the Capitol Police were being addressed or were already implemented.
The report comes nearly a year since a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton said in a report last year “that many of the problems that contributed to the 6th were long-standing issues the department either knew and did not address in time or did not address on a routine manner to prevent,” according to CNN.