The union representing U.S. Capitol Police said its officers were not prepared for what unfolded at the Capitol earlier this month, despite the executive team knowing that there was potential for violence during a pro-Trump rally.
Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said that by Jan. 4, the department knew that the Jan. 6 event would not be like previous protests of 2020 and that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending.
“Let me be clear: The department should have been more prepared for this attack,” Pittman said.
The United States Capitol Police Labor Committee said that Pittman’s admission has angered and shocked members of Capitol Police.
“The disclosure that the entire executive team (former Chief Sund, now Acting Chief Pittman, and Assistant Chief Thomas) knew what was coming but did not better prepare us for potential violence, including the possible use of firearms against us, is unconscionable,” the union said in a statement.
Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said that almost 140 members of U.S. Capitol police and D.C. police were injured on Jan. 6.
Officer Brian Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” and died from his injuries. And a Capitol Police officer and a D.C. police officer who both responded to the riot died by suicide.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called the initial response by Capitol Police a “catastrophic failure” and called for an investigation.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund defended the department’s response to the storming of the Capitol, saying that officers “acted valiantly” while being attacked with metal pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons, The Associated Press reported.
“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained head injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake to name some of the injuries,” Papathanasiou said.
Papathanasiou called for Capitol Police’s executive team to be held accountable.
In choosing the next person to head the force, Papathanasiou is hoping that Congress looks at leaders within the department.
“We have leaders in this department who have the support of the front-line officers. They can implement the changes we need to make, but those leaders are not at the Chief or Assistant Chief levels,” he said.