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Capitol Police watchdog urges changes in wake of Jan. 6 failings

The testimony follows his report on the Capitol Police response, which listed intelligence lapses and a lack of proper equipment as issues.
Image: U.S. Capitol Police officer stand as violent rioters storm the Capitol, in Washington
U.S. Capitol Police officer stand as violent rioters storm the Capitol, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021,John Minchillo / AP file

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police inspector general testified Thursday about the law enforcement agency’s failings during the Jan. 6 attack, saying widespread changes are needed to prevent future assaults.

Inspector General Michael Bolton told the House Administration Committee in a prepared statement that the Capitol Police “failed to disseminate relevant information obtained from outside sources, lacked consensus on the interpretation of threat analyses, and disseminated conflicting intelligence information regarding planned events for January 6, 2021.”

Bolton added "training deficiencies put our brave men and women in a position not to succeed" in fending off the mob that stormed the Capitol, as did an order from Capitol Police brass that heavier, less-lethal weapons not be used to counter the assault.

While it is "difficult to say" whether the heavier ordnance "would have turned the tide," he said, "it certainly would have helped us."

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., noted that Capitol Police should have had easier access to their gear, and said that "unarmed and unescorted civilian employees were sent to deliver less than lethal munitions to officers, but they were hindered by the crowd" and "retreated."

Bolton said that equipment should have been pre-positioned in secure locations inside the building so "you don't have to go out and get civilians to come in there and resupply you."

Bolton said that the police force needs a “culture change” and should act as a protective agency that can prevent events like Jan. 6 instead of being primarily reactive.

He also said that to increase the efficiency of its intelligence resources, the police force should consider reorganizing to form a single intelligence unit.

"We need an an intelligence bureau" and additional training for analysts, Bolton said. "Intelligence is a puzzle. You get bits and pieces," and analysts "have to read between the lines," he added.

“A formal intelligence training program is necessary; otherwise, the department cannot ensure the proper training of its intelligence employees or ensure that they are up to date on policies and procedures,” Bolton said.

Bolton's testimony comes after he wrote a report that found that the Capitol Police ignored critical intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6 riot, including overlooking a warning that “Congress itself is the target.” NBC News obtained the 104-page report Wednesday, which has not been made public.

In it, the inspector general found that the Capitol Police’s intelligence unit warned three days before the riot that Trump supporters, who believed his false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen, had made specific plans to target Congress on Jan. 6 and were “actively” promoting violence.

The police force also lacked policies and procedures that left them severely unprepared to deal with the deadly insurrection, he found.

The Capitol Police's Civil Disturbance Unit "was operating at a decreased level of readiness as a result of a lack of standards for equipment, ... a lapse in certain certifications, an inaccurate CDU roster, staffing concerns for the unit, quarterly audits that were not performed, and property inventories not in compliance,” the report’s executive summary says.