By Adam Andrzejewski
Some United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers were teleworking, some riot gear was locked in a bus or shattered upon impact after being improperly stored, and only a couple hundred of the 1,879 sworn officers were inside the Capitol Building, despite intelligence showing the protests might get heated on January 6th, 2021.
Even with a $464 million-a-year budget and nearly 2,000 officers, the USCP was unable to stop a breach of the Capitol by protestors who carried no guns. The USCP’s budget is greater than many large metropolitan cities, including Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Columbus, Ohio.
Today, Congress plans to give the USCP — which has admitted to a lack of preparation, training, communication, and equipment—an additional ~$150 million, bringing its budget to over $600 million for fiscal year 2022.
Some of that money will no doubt go to the USCP’s diversity office, which was little use on January 6th but has nonetheless grown in staff and budget since 2016.
Showing Up Is Half the Battle
Despite employing 1,879 sworn officers as of September 2020, a congressional inquiry forced USCP to admit that on January 6th, only 195 officers were deployed to interior or exterior posts at the U.S. Capitol and 276 more were assigned to the Department’s seven civil disturbance unit platoons.
USCP documents show that at 2pm on that day, only 1,214 officers were “on site” across the Capitol complex of buildings. Congressional investigators concluded, however, that USCP could only account for 417 officers and could not account for the whereabouts of the remaining 797 officers.
Only 1,457 of its 1,879 sworn officers were ever “on site” over the entire 24-hour period of January 6th. That leaves 422 officers who were never even on site – 23-percent or nearly 1 in every 4 officers.
Some officers didn’t show up because they were “teleworking.” The USCP Inspector told Congress that 43 sworn officers were “at alternative facility/travel” and “teleworking.” (See footnote 358.)
Responding to our request for comment the Capitol Police spokesperson provided this context:
“The Department has off-site locations, which also must continue to operate. Fewer than 50 sworn employees were working off-site on January 6. Many of the sworn employees who did not work on January 6 were unavailable due to injuries, COVID-19, or leave such as Family Medical Leave or Military Leave. While the Department restricted leave for this event, it did not cancel leave for sworn employees who had submitted leave requests that were approved months in advance of January 6.”
The U.S. Capitol Complex consists of approximately 20 buildings spread across roughly two square miles, including House of Representatives and Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as various parks and the U.S. Botanic Garden.
USCP, in 2018, screened 11.2 million individuals at building entrances and interior checkpoints, according to USCP Congressional testimony.
As the sole federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the Capitol Complex, the USCP is the first and last line of defense protecting Members of Congress, their staff, and visitors to the nation’s Capitol buildings.
Riot Shields Shattered on Impact, Some Locked in a Bus, Officers Not Dressed for Success
According to a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional report, the USCP did not authorize its special tactical unit officers to wear protective gear at the beginning of their shift, but “pre-stage[d]” it in various locations.
In at least once instance, “USCP protective shields were locked in a bus during the riot so that a CDU platoon was unable to access them, and as a result, the platoon was required to respond to the crowd without the protection of their riot shields.”
But even those officers who had riot shields faced problems. USCP officers reportedly “were given defective riot shields that had been improperly stored and, as a result, “shatter[ed] upon impact.”
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action (IDEA) Office of Little Use on January 6
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com reviewed what little is available on Capitol Police spending, and uncovered the previously unreported USCP “Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action (IDEA) Office.”
In 2016, the USCP hired Natalie Holder to be its “Chief Diversity Officer” and lead the USCP’s IDEA Office, an office she said she founded. Her salary is not public, though she bragged on her publicly accessible LinkedIn page that she grew the office to five people and “grew the budget by 70%[.]”
Interestingly, Holder was public about her anti-Trump biases. On Twitter and Instagram, Holder admitted to showing up for work late to walk an extra eight minutes for a Starbucks not sold at the Trump International Hotel. “#LateToWorkButOnTheRightSideOfHistory” she posted, alongside a photo of the hotel.
A little over five months before the security breach at the U.S. Capitol, the USCP Chief Steven Sund testified to Congress about the department’s diversity training:
“We have also strengthened our relationships with Asian-American, African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA, and women-focused professional associations in law enforcement through our involvement in conferences, meetings, and recruiting events.”
Weeks before he would resign following the massive breach in Capitol Hill security, Chief Sund released his Human Capital Strategic Plan for the USCP employees for 2021-2025, which listed the second highest goal for USCP employees as “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “equity.”
“Anybody have a plan?” USCP leadership was AWOL on January 6th
Congressional investigators reported:
Despite incident commanders being overwhelmed, USCP leadership never took control of the radio to communicate with responding officers. Officers did not recall hearing [Chief] Mr. Sund on the radio at any point during the attack and only recalled hearing Ms. Pittman once—when she ordered a lockdown of the Capitol Building at 2:00 p.m.
…Neither Mr. Sund nor Ms. Pittman provided an explanation for why USCP leadership did not directly communicate with officers. One officer attributed this failure to a lack of operational experience among USCP leadership and suggested that the promotion process at USCP should be reevaluated. In the absence of communication, officers lacked clarity about whether to respond to calls for “all available units.” An officer reported hearing a Lieutenant repeatedly ask over the radio, “[d]oes anybody have a plan?”
Congress Appropriates $150 Million Increase in Budget
The Senate Appropriations Committee has announced, though not yet passed, an annual appropriations bill for the USCP that would increase its previous budget by $91 million and allow USCP to hire up to 212 more sworn officers, bringing the force to over 2,100 officers and adding another 44 “mission critical civilian support personnel.”
The bill also provides officers “with overtime and retention benefits, such as tuition credits and wellness and trauma support. The bill also makes considerable investments in life-cycle replacements for needed security, safety and communications equipment, as well as in intelligence and investigation analytics, and upgraded Civil Disturbance Unit gear, and increases in dignitary protection travel and intelligence analysis” (emphasis added).
Capitol Hill Police are not subject to open records laws
It’s hard to hold the USCP accountable.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com filed a FOIA request for the salaries and expenses of the Capitol Police. On September 24, 2021, we were informed that the Capitol Police were exempt under federal FOIA laws and their salaries and expenses are shielded from disclosure to the public.
The USCP’s senior counsel wrote that the USCP, “as a legislative branch entity, is not an “agency” as defined …under the Freedoms of Information Act.” The counsel also claimed that even if it did fall under FOIA, the information our auditors requested would be exempt, leaving taxpayers in the dark to USCP spending.
Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack: A Review of the Security, Planning, and Response Failures on January 6
US Capitol Police Equity, Diversity & Inclusion website
Testimony of Steven A. Sund, Chief of Police United States Capitol Police Before the Committee on House Administration U.S. House of Representatives July 16, 2019
January 6th Capitol Riot Had At Least Two Embedded FBI Informants
“Capitol security review recommends sweeping changes after riot”
$18.2 Million Congressional Slush Fund for #MeToo Claims(Includes three payouts related to USCP in 2019). Since 1997, the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights has paid out $18.2 million to settle 291 cases of workplace disputes for Congress, the Capitol Police, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Library of Congress.
Democratic Mayors Defunded Their Police, While Spending Millions On Their Own Police Protection, Forbes, July 20, 2021