The acting head of the Capitol Police is apologizing for the department’s failure to adequately prepare for protests on January 6, where rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda D. Pittman said the department “failed to meet its own high standards” in preparing to secure the Capitol ahead of the riot and as people stormed the building.
While she noted the riot did not stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote count, she said the department’s “inability to immediately secure the U.S. Capitol emboldened insurrectionists and horrified millions of Amerian[s].”
“I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department,” she said, adding, “Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack.”
Pittman said the department knew by January 4 that militia groups and “white supremacist organizations” planned to attend a protest of the certification, and it planned “to meet these challenges.”
“But we did not do enough,” she added.
Pittman proceeded to detail some of the security measures the department planned, such as requiring “all available officers” to work that day and increasing the number of “Civil Disturbance Units” — which included “four hard platoons equipped with less lethal munitions.”
She also said the department “activated its SWAT team to extract violent demonstrators or those with weapons from the rally and to engage in counter sniper activity.”
Additionally, she said former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asked the Capitol Police Board to declare a state of emergency, and “authorize a request to secure National Guard support.”
“The Board denied the request, but encouraged Chief Sund to contact the D.C. National Guard to determine how many Guardsman should be sent to the Capitol on short notice, which he did,” she said.
Read the statement below:
🚨🚨NEW >> In stunning statement, Acting Capitol Police Chief Pittman…— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) January 26, 2021
• Apologizes to Congress for failures
• Says NOTHING could have been done to have an open Capitol complex & prevent the insurrection
• Admits radio communication problems #breaking @WUSA9 @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/EVDCh5E9sA
Pittman claimed that she does 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 prevent the attack on the Capital grounds that day.”
Still, she said she believes that “the challenges the department faced the day of the attack could have been overcome with additional preparation.”
Pittman said the Capitol Police force lacked sufficient manpower to address the protesters, even though the Washington, D.C., police department sent 100 officers to the Capitol “within minutes of the initial breach.”
She also said Sund tried to get the National Guard to deploy to the Capitol, but the authorization was not approved “for over an hour.”
On top of the already insufficient manpower, Pittman said resources were “diverted to other major concerns” such as evacuating office buildings and residents near the Capitol after a pipe bomb was found near the Republican National Committee headquarters.
Pittman said the department did prepare adequately to have “less-lethal chemicals” readily accessible.
Officers also had difficulty hearing communications “on their radios over the ruckus of the attack.”
“Without a clear line of communication, officers were operating with limited information about what was occurring and with little instruction from leadership,” she added.
Pittman said she takes responsibility for the failures to adequately prepare for the riot and vowed that “we will do better going forward.”
Finally, she said she believes investigations “will conclude that the Capitol’s security infrastructure must change and that the department needs access to additional resources — both manpower and physical assets.”