WASHINGTON – The United States Capitol Police said 35 officers on its force are under investigation, with six officers suspended without pay, as part of its probe into the Jan. 6 riot, a move the Capitol Police Union denounced Friday as a “witch hunt” against rank-and-file officers deflecting responsibility from the top.
“Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline,” the department said in a statement.
In response, Capitol Police uinion chairman Gus Papathanasiou issued a statement, saying he could not comment on specific investigations “because they’re private personal matters,” but “these investigations appear to be an attempt by USCP’s upper management to divert the attention away from their significant leadership failures of January 6th.”
Asking why chiefs were not under investigation or suspended, Papathanasiou called it “sickening” the department would investigate the officers “because of USCP’s top management’s immediate failures as they try to point the fingers at officers who were applauded by Congress this past week.”
The Capitol Police have faced intense scrutiny as congressional panels probe security failures leading up to and during the Jan. 6 riot. Pittman is part of a group of top law enforcement officials invited to testify before two top Senate panels on Tuesday; she is set to testify before a key House panel overseeing the department’s funding next week, too.
The Capitol Police’s own watchdog has also begun an investigation into the agency.
The number of officers suspended in the aftermath of the riot has grown.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who chairs a key panel overseeing the Capitol Police’s funding, told reporters in the week after the riot that 10 officers had been under investigation, with two suspended. Among those suspended at the time were an officer who allegedly wore a “Make America Great Again” hat along with rioters on Jan. 6, and another who had been videotaped taking selfies with rioters.
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The riot has also surfaced long-simmering tensions between the union and its leadership. The union took a vote of no confidence in its departmental leadership earlier this week, with 92% voting in no confidence in Pittman.
Lawmakers and the police union have expressed concern about the department’s lack of preparation before the riot, despite intelligence suggesting it could happen. Papathanasiou has said the Capitol Police and Washington, D.C., police suffered at least 140 injuries on Jan. 6, and noted officers who were not issued helmets before the attack sustained head injuries.
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