On January 6, Trump loyalists gathered in Washington DC, as congress confirmed the winner of the US election; however, bolstered by calls made at the outgoing president’s ‘Stop the Steal’ rally minutes earlier, hundreds of individuals, in a riot that saw five people killed, stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted proceedings, shocking the world.
Acknowledging setbacks that law enforcement officials endured as many hundreds of Trump supporters forced their way through security barriers, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement to congressional officials on Tuesday, formally apologizing for security failures.
During a closed-door briefing with members of the House Appropriations Committee, Pittman stated Capitol Police had “failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours,” before noting that she was present to “offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department.”
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021
“The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough,” the official said, before explaining that added measures included requiring all available officers to be on shift, activating SWAT units and upping the number of civil disturbance units, as well as reshaping security perimeters based on instructions received from both the House and Senate sergeant-at-arms, both of whom resigned from their posts in the wake of the deadly riot.
“In my experience, I do not believe there was any preparations that would have allowed for an open campus in which lawful protesters could exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and at the same time prevented the attack on Capitol grounds that day,” Pittman noted. “However, I do believe certain challenges the department faced the day of the attack could have been overcome with additional preparation.”
People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington
With Capitol Police spread thin, as armed and violent individuals stormed the federal building, the agency found itself struggling to meet the need of the moment even as additional forces were deployed to handle a pair of pipe bomb reports as well as that of a report of a van filled with explosive chemicals. To make matters more dire, a second request from Sund to the Capitol Police Board to deploy National Guard troops was held off “for over an hour,” Pittman detailed.
Aside from lax preventative measures and insufficient troop figures, Pittman also informed the members of the committee – which funds the Capitol Police – that officers were not given the proper tools, and that a faulty communication system within the US Capitol prevented officers from understanding what orders were being handed down by leadership.
Pittman stressed that the agency would now take up new measures to better prepare against similar incidences and protect the inhabitants and physical infrastructure. “The US Capitol Police remain steadfast in addressing the new challenges that we face head on,” she said.