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Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief says department 'failed' during Jan. 6 riot

"I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department," she said.
Trump Supporters Hold \"Stop The Steal\" Rally In DC Amid Ratification Of Presidential Election
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Brent Stirton / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The acting chief of U.S. Capitol Police told members of Congress Tuesday that her agency "failed" in its efforts to protect the Capitol complex on Jan. 6 when pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

"On January 6th, in the face of a terrorist attack by tens of thousands of insurrectionists determined to stop the certification of Electoral College votes, the Department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours," Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said in remarks released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Pittman said that although Capitol Police accomplished its mission of protecting lawmakers, "the insurrectionists’ actions and the Department’s inability to immediately secure the U.S. Capitol emboldened the insurrectionists and horrified millions of Americans."

"We fully expect to answer to you and the American people for our failings on January 6th. I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department," Pittman said.

Five people were killed as a result of the Jan. 6 riot. More than 100 people are facing federal charges in connection to the unrest.

Capitol Police prepared for potential violence, said Pittman, but admitted that her team "did not do enough." She said that on Jan. 4, two days before the attack, the department knew that the people coming to the Capitol were members of militia groups and white supremacist organizations — and that some of these participants planned to bring firearms and other weapons.

To prepare, Pittman said that Capitol Police required all officers to work Jan. 6 and activated its SWAT team to "extract violent demonstrators or those with weapons from the rally and to engage in counter sniper activity." She said that then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund also requested that the Capitol Police Board 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 DC National Guard to determine how many Guardsman could be sent to the Capitol on short notice, which he did," said Pittman, who said that her department also worked with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Pittman listed a number of things that went wrong on Jan. 6. She said that Capitol Police needed "much more manpower" and that Sund lobbied the Board for authorization to bring in the National Guard, "but he was not granted authorization for over an hour." Pittman also said that officers had trouble hearing communications on their radios and that as a result, they were "operating with limited information about what was occurring and with little instruction from leadership."

And to make matters worse, at the time that the mob arrived at the Capitol, Pittman said that her team had to divert officers to nearby areas where pipe bombs and a vehicle with explosive chemicals and a firearm were discovered.

Sund resigned as Capitol Police chief a day after the attack,

Pittman outlined steps that her department are now taking to better improve communication, including to lawmakers. She said that she takes responsibility "for the mistakes made" and pledged to make changes.

House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett also said in remarks released by the Appropriations Committee that there was a "failure of preparation" on Jan. 6 and that security officials "must harden this campus."

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tasked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading a review of the U.S. Capitol’s security.