March 9, 2021

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‘We did not do enough’: Acting Capitol Police chief apologizes for security failure

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Yogananda D. Pittman said the department was outmanned and unprepared for the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol.

The acting Capitol Police chief on Tuesday apologized to Congress for the security failures at the complex the day of the deadly Jan. 6 riots, acknowledging in an extraordinary statement that the department “failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours.”

During a closed-door briefing with the House Appropriations Committee, Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting head of the U.S. Capitol Police, said the department was outmanned and unprepared for the attack. She also admitted that a Capitol police board denied a request on Jan. 4 for additional support from the National Guard. It wasn’t until the building was overrun by a pro-Trump mob the panel relented, an hour after another plea was made.

“I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department,” Pittman told members of the spending panel, which has jurisdiction over the agency’s funding.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund as well as two board members resigned after the Capitol siege that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. The Senate and House Sergeant-at-Arms also stepped down from their posts in response to the security breaches.

Pittman’s testimony — which she delivered via video conference — was first reported by The New York Times.

Timothy P. Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, also told lawmakers that it was “clear there was a failure of preparation.”

“Whether it was insufficient or conflicting intelligence, lacking ability to translate that intelligence into action, insufficient preparation or an inadequate ability to mobilize partner agencies for immediate assistance, a series of events, once thought unfathomable, unfolded allowing our most sacred halls to be breached,” he said.

The acting police chief, who described the siege as a “terrorist attack," informed lawmakers that the department knew the protests had the potential to turn violent and that the Capitol was a target.

“We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event,” Pittman told lawmakers. “We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target. The Department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough.”

Pittman also said the agency was simply outnumbered, noting they had just 1,200 sworn personnel working on site — “no match for the tens of thousands of insurrectionists (many armed) attacking the Capitol and refusing to comply with lawful orders,” she added.

Now, Pittman says, many officers — who had been working around the clock to prepare for the inauguration — are suffering from PTSD, as well as battling coronavirus infections.

The briefing marks the first time that officials have testified to Congress on the security breaches at the Capitol, though lawmakers have been briefed on ongoing threats to members and the complex.

In the wake of the deadly riots, lawmakers have called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the mob attack, which includes examining the security failures that led to the deadly siege.

“We will have an after-action review; there will be a commission,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/26/capitol-police-chief-apologizes-security-failure-462668

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