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Capitol Police watchdog says agency hasn't improved enough since Jan. 6

Inspector General Michael Bolton testified at a Senate Rules Committee hearing about Capitol Police’s efforts to revamp their procedures.
Michael Bolton
Capitol Police inspector general Michael Bolton testifies at a Senate Rules and Administration oversight hearing on June 16, 2021,in Washington.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

WASHINGTON — Michael Bolton, the inspector general of the U.S. Capitol Police, told Congress Tuesday that the agency has not done enough to improve its activities in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Bolton made the comments in testimony before a Senate Rules Committee hearing about Capitol Police’s efforts to revamp their procedures. He said that “out of 200 security enhancements the department provided to the inspector general, only 61 of those items have supporting documentation to support that those enhancements have occurred."

Some of the enhancements that have been implemented, he said, include intelligence briefings provided to rank and file officers and department leadership. The department has also issued cellphones to all officers, in response to poor radio communications on Jan. 6.

But even with those improvements, Bolton said, around 200 officers have left the force since the Capitol riot. A Capitol Police spokesman later disputed that number and said that 130 employees have retired or resigned since Jan. 6., nearly twice the number from the same period in 2020.

“The department still lacks the overall training infrastructure to meet the needs of the department, the level of Intelligence gathering and expertise needed, and an overall cultural change needed to move the department into a protective agency as opposed to a traditional police department,” Bolton said.

He said that “much work still needs to be addressed” across many elements of Capitol Police in order to shift it from being a traditional police department to a protective agency following Jan. 6. Bolton said the Capitol Police "lacks the infrastructure for training, the intelligence gathering and expertise that’s needed to prevent future attacks and an overall cultural change.”

Among his recommendations, Bolton said the department needs to hire a full-time director for intelligence and create "a standalone, full, robust intelligence bureau."

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who's also a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he disagrees with the idea of creating another intelligence bureau, arguing the Capitol Police can already rely on the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for intel.

"To me, it's a coordination issue rather than a collection of intelligence issue," he said at Tuesday's hearing. "The tragedy is to have intelligence, but it may not get to the people that need it."

King also questioned why the windows on the first floors of the Capitol aren't bulletproof. Bolton said that would be outside of his authority and likely involves the Architect of the Capitol.

Out of 104 recommendations Bolton's office made to Capitol Police, he said only 30 have been implemented. The inspector general said there has been some "hesitation" by the Capitol Police about boosting security clearances because it would create complications for the hiring process and instituting a new policy for existing officers.

In response to Bolton's testimony, USCP said: "The United States Capitol Police agrees with the Inspector General that the Department must continue to improve and expand its intelligence and protective capabilities."

"Although there is more work to do, the Department has made immense progress in first addressing the specific failures that led to the January 6 attack, such as improving the way the USCP gathers, analyzes and distributes intelligence, professionalizing major event planning, implementing joint exercises ahead of events, conducting in-person briefings for uniformed officers prior to events, developing a process to get assistance from partnering agencies, ordering additional equipment, holding dozens of training sessions, expanding the Wellness Division, and adding a new external communication plan to improve the speed and accuracy of information for the public and journalists," USCP added.

When Bolton was asked by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., if Capitol Police has performed a full-fledged drill across the Capitol complex, he said it has only conducted evacuation drills of individual buildings.

Capito referenced the school shooting in Oxford, Mich., last week and said Congress should conduct large-scale drills just as students do in case of an active shooter.

Bolton said his office plans to release a final report about Capitol Police in relation to Jan. 6 in the next few days.

Committee chair Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Tuesday's hearing would be the first in a series. She said the next hearing will be held next month and include testimony from Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger.

Meanwhile, the House select committee investigating the riot has been escalating its investigation into the riot. Marc Short, who was chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, is cooperating with the committee, two people familiar with the panel's activities told NBC News.