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Acting Capitol Police Chief apologizes for handling of Jan. 6 riot

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Acting Capitol Police Chief apologizes for handling of Jan. 6 riot


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How rioters passed police lines and gained access to the Capitol

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The acting chief of the United States Capitol Police apologized to members of Congress for her agency’s failures during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying they failed to be prepared for the “terrorist attack,”according to a copy of her prepared remarks to a key House panel obtained by USA TODAY.

“I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department,” acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the agency’s funding.

Her department should have been more prepared for the “terrorist attack,” she told lawmakers. The agency was aware that militia groups and white supremacists, some of whom would be armed, would be at the protests in Washington, D.C., she said, and her agency knew there was “a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.” 

“The agency prepared, but “we did not do enough,” she told lawmakers.

More: Capitol riot investigators focus on police officers, first responders in lawless fray

Tuesday’s closed-door briefing comes as lawmakers investigate the insurrection that left at least five people dead. The House impeached President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting the riot Jan. 13 and the Senate is set to begin an impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8.

More: Texas man charged after storming US Capitol, making death threats against Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and police officer

The 1,200 Capitol Police personnel working at the Capitol that day were “no match” for the “tens of thousands of insurrectionists,” many of whom were armed when they stormed the Capitol as Congress counted the Electoral College votes showing Joe Biden won the election. 

When rioters entered the building, they ransacked halls and offices as they scene was covered live on national television. Senators, House members and former Vice President Mike Pence were forced to take cover as the mob spread throughout the building.

She outlined a litany of issues with the Capitol Police’s response on Jan. 6, including the diversion of officers away from the Capitol to investigate pipe bombs placed at the Republican and Democratic National Committees, the lack of equipment to handle the insurrectionists, an incomplete Capitol lockdown, and poor lines of communication. 

Pittman also confirmed to lawmakers that the Capitol Police Board, a three-person panel overseeing the agency, had delayed former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s request for National Guard support for “over an hour” on Jan. 6. Sund promptly resigned after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for him to step down. 

In the same briefing, acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett, the House’s top law enforcement officer, acknowledged similar failures on Jan. 6, describing a “failure of preparation” among law enforcement agenciesand breakdowns in communication during the insurrection. 

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Reach Nicholas Wu on Twitter at @nicholaswu12.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/26/acting-capitol-police-chief-apologizes-handling-jan-6-riot/4260641001/





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