After the Attack: The Future of the U.S. Capitol Police

CITY OF WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 6,2021)—Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman released a letter describing the future of the U.S. Capitol Police:

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.

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.

Since that day, our team has been working with federal law enforcement agents to track down the suspects and bring them to justice. So far more than 500 defendants face charges.

Throughout the last six months, the United States Capitol Police has been working around the clock with our Congressional stakeholders to support our officers, enhance security around the Capitol Complex, and pivot towards an intelligence-based protective agency.

USCP continues to implement recommendations from a series of post January 6 reviews including;

  • Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack, a report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs and the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules
  • Capitol Security Review, a report conducted by Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré’s Task Force 1-6
  • A series of flash reports by the USCP Office of the Inspector General
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Architect of the Capitol’s Physical Security Assessment
  • USCP Security Services Bureau’s Complex Security Assessments
  • House Select Committee

Here are examples of the improvements the United States Capitol Police has made since January 6;

Expanded Wellness Services 

The USCP is working closely with the House and Senate Employee Assistance Programs, including their trauma informed counselors. The Department is working with the House and Senate Chaplain Offices to partner on spiritual support services. Organizations specializing in addressing psychological trauma and stress have been brought in. Law enforcement agencies and other organizations also generously provided members of their peer support teams. The USCP is developing its own internal peer support program. And finally, new wellness support dogs, Lila and Filip, will spread the message of wellness by helping engage the wellness team with our employees.

Enhanced Member Protection

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.   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. 

Increased Training

The Civil Disturbance Unit has increased training, to include joint training with the National Guard, riot training, shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and less-than-lethal exercises. The Department is also increasing its use of force, tactical, equipment, leadership, and incident command training. The USCP sent officials to attend CDU training in Seattle and Virginia Beach.

Critical Incident Response Planning

The Department solidified its new Critical Incident Response Plan, which establishes a multi-phased action plan to quickly mobilize local, state, and federal manpower, including the Department of Defense, to respond to planned and/or no-notice emergencies. It is also working with Congressional oversight and the Capitol Police Board to obtain the authority to immediately request National Guard assistance if needed without having to wait for board approval.

Seasoned Law Enforcement and Operational Planning Experts

The law enforcement experts will address recommendations presented by the Government Accountability Office, the USCP Office of the Inspector General and various oversight committees to enhance the Department’s internal controls and processes. Their institutional knowledge will build upon USCP’s plan to improve operations, while moving forward along a new path towards an intelligence based protective agency.

Retired U.S. Secret Service Agent Wesley Schwark was also brought in as a contractor to assist with the now Department-wide operations planning process— another critical step to ensure a violent attack like January 6 never happens again.

Equipment & Technology

The Department has acquired additional helmets, shields and less-than-lethal munitions, and has ordered more batons.

Through a loan from the Department of Defense, the USCP will have access to state-of-the-art campus surveillance technology, which will enhance the ability to detect and monitor threat activity.

Communication

Internally, the Department has vastly increased the information shared with sworn officers about obtained intelligence and event planning.

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. 

The Public Information Office is now engaging with the community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as increasing the number of news releases to keep the media and local community informed.

Recruitment

The Department just launched a new recruitment effort, which includes the use of its social media platforms and traditional media.

Those are just some of the improvements the United States Capitol Police is making, with the support of our Congressional stakeholders, in the wake of the January 6 attack.

We honor all the brave men and women who, against all odds, faced down a violent crowd that day and protected our elected leaders and everyone who was in the Capitol Complex.

We will never forget their bravery and will continue to work in their honor.

Sincerely,

Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman

 

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