Capitol Police, National Guard leaders address Capitol security breach


Congress is still grappling with the political ramifications of the events of January 6, with the Senate in the early stages of an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

"We know the eyes of the country and the world are upon us", Pittman said, according to her prepared remarks.

"Despite the comments made today by the US Capitol Police (USCP) Acting Chief before the House Appropriations Committee, then-Chief (Steven) Sund did not reach out to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) with a request for an emergency declaration or seeking National Guard support".

"In my experience, I do not believe there was any preparations that would have allowed for an open campus in which lawful protesters could exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and at the same time prevented the attack on Capitol grounds that day", Pittman said. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that authorities have detected ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside the Capitol. Inside the building, Congress was certifying the victory of President Joe Biden.

The acting chief said more than 1,200 Capitol police officers were working at the site when the siege unfolded - leaving five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. A sixth person, another Capitol Police officer, later died by suicide.

Afterward, Democratic Representative Tim Ryan told reporters that police officers guarding the Capitol were ordered not to use lethal force against the angry mob that pushed its way into the Capitol to commit violent acts and damage the historic building. The Senate and House Sergeant-at-Arms also stepped down from their posts in response to the security breaches.

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The report of an additional officer's death once again shook Capitol Hill, where many members and staff are still reeling in the three weeks since the insurrection.

Capitol police changed its operational plan for January 6 two days earlier, with then-head Steven Sund requesting that the Capitol Police Board declare a state of emergency and approve a request for support from the National Guard, Pittman said. She added, "I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department".

She added that her orders "may not have been consistently followed" and cited communication issues that left officers "operating with limited information about what was occurring and with little instruction from leadership". The chief of the Capitol Police serves in an ex officio, nonvoting capacity.

Pittman said that the Capitol's security infrastructure needs updating "and that the Department needs access to additional resources - both manpower and physical assets" to be better equipped in the future.

Pittman's testimony - which she delivered via video conference - was first reported by The New York Times. His predecessor had spent most of his more than 30 years in law enforcement with the U.S. Supreme Court Police. But he noted that it's also important that they feel protected and positioned to respond quickly to anything that might happen.

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