WASHINGTON – U.S. Capitol police should dramatically expand staffing, focus on intelligence gathering and coordinate better with the National Guard to prevent another attack like the Jan. 6 riot, according to a security review headed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré that is being presented to House members Monday.
The House and Senate will have to consider which recommendations to adopt and how to fund them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who asked Honoré to lead the review, has called the report a draft that will require additional funding.
Recommendations in the 15-page report include:
• Better funding for Capitol police, a force of about 2,000 officers that has 233 vacancies and spent 55% of its overtime for the year during the first five months of the fiscal year. The report recommended creating 854 more jobs, including 350 to reduce overtime and 424 to cover new duties such as intelligence gathering,
• Hastening the ability of the Capitol police chief to request support from other law enforcement agencies or the National Guard, which now requires a cumbersome process with the Capitol Police Board. Hours-long delays in requesting the Guard occurred Jan. 6.
• Adopting mobile fencing around the Capitol, which would be easily erected and removed during emergencies. Rioters on Jan. 6 were able to quickly overcome metal barricades that officers stood behind.
• Improving communications, to allow leaders to bypass cluttered radio channels to communicate without interruption. The report also recommended that officers were body cameras, as Metropolitan Police do.
• Immediately enhancing security for lawmakers in their district offices and homes.
• Considering the use of more bomb-sniffing dogs and perhaps even a resumption of horse patrols, which were discontinued in 2005.
“The USCP were understaffed, insufficiently equipped, and inadequately trained to secure the Capitol and Members when violently attacked by a large mob,” the report said.
The recommendations come after the insurrection Jan. 6, when rioters stormed through the building, vandalized offices and delayed the counting of Electoral College votes. About 140 police officers were injured in the attack, including Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from his injuries the next day.
The 16-member review team included former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer; Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz, the commander of the D.C. National Guard; retired Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan; retired Army Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson, the new Senate sergeant-at-arms.
Kevin McCarthy: Pelosi wants to turn ‘Capitol into a fortress’
Pelosi had asked Honoré to review Capitol security after insurrectionists broke into the building and vandalized officers on Jan. 6, delaying the counting of Electoral College votes. House members were to receive briefings on the review Monday.
But Pelosi said lawmakers would have to review the recommendations and determine how much to spend. Some the recommendations, such as the extent of fencing to remain around the building, will be contentious.
“It’s going to take more money to protect the Capitol in a way that enables people to come here, children to come and see our democracy in action,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., accused Honore of “notorious partisan bias” and questioned why Pelosi appointed him.
“It’s possible that the Speaker desired a certain result: turning the Capitol into a fortress,” McCarthy said in a Sunday statement.