Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda D Pittman (pictured) on Thursday recommended that the fencing erected around the Capitol after the January 6 MAGA riots should be left up permanently
The acting Capitol Police Chief has recommended that the fencing erected around the Capitol after the January 6 MAGA riots should be left up permanently.
Acting Chief Yogananda D Pittman made the recommendation in a statement on Thursday regarding her department’s efforts to ‘harden’ security around the Capitol to prevent another insurrection in the future.
Pittman, who was promoted to lead the force after former chief Steven Sund stepped down in the wake of the riots, also voiced support for permanently keeping ‘ready, back up forces in close proximity to the Capitol’.
Following the insurrection, more than 25,000 National Guard troops were drafted in from all 50 states and a Baghdad-style ‘Green Zone’ perimeter was set up in the heart of DC to prevent a repeat attack on Inauguration Day.
While the day passed without significant issue, army officials have confirmed more than 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington DC through mid-March amid concerns that the threat of domestic violent extremism will linger for some time.
Pittman’s statement came two days after she apologized to Congress on behalf of her department for stunning security failures on January 6 and acknowledged that the agency had been forewarned of a ‘strong potential for violence’ but failed to take adequate steps to prevent it.
Meanwhile Democratic lawmakers are pushing for additional funds for security under an effort led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
National Guardsmen are seen outside the Capitol on Tuesday. Earlier this week army officials confirmed more than 5,000 troops will remain in Washington DC through mid-March
Pittman’s statement came two days after she apologized to Congress on behalf of her department for stunning security failures on January 6 and acknowledged that the agency had been forewarned of a ‘strong potential for violence’ but failed to take adequate steps to stop it
Pittman’s Thursday statement read: ‘In the days following January 6, 2021, with the assistance of our Federal and local law enforcement partners, and our Congressional stakeholders, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) has hardened the physical security across the Capitol Complex in order to further protect the Congress.
‘Upon becoming the Acting Chief on January 8, 2021, I immediately directed my staff to conduct a physical security assessment of the entire Capitol Complex. This assessment is in addition to the USCP’s Inspector General’s review of the events of January 6, 2021, and the third-party review of the Complex’s physical infrastructure, processes, and command and control being conducted at the behest of Speaker Pelosi by retired Lt Gen Russel Honore.
‘I welcome each of these reviews, and am ensuring that the Department will provide all of the information that is necessary to facilitate these studies. In the end, we all have the same goal – to prevent what occurred on January 6 from ever happening again.
‘As I noted earlier this week, even before September 11, 2001, security experts argued that more needed to be done to protect the U.S. Capitol. In fact, a 2006 security assessment specifically recommended the installation of a permanent perimeter fence around the Capitol.
‘In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol.
‘I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol.’
Shortly after Pittman’s statement was released, authorities announced that they had arrested a 71-year-old Trump supporter who was found parked near the Capitol with a gun, 20 rounds of ammunition, a list of lawmakers and ‘Stop the Steal’ paperwork.
Dennis Westover, of West Virginia, was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, according to a police report obtained by the Daily Beast.
Westover was described by the outlet as being obsessed with unfounded theories that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of unregistered ammunition and unlawful possession of a firearm in DC Superior Court on Thursday afternoon and was released.
Authorities have not said which lawmakers were on Westover’s alleged list, but the incident underscored arguments by Pittman and Democrats that Capitol security needs to be amped up.
The statement released by Pittman on Thursday is shown in full above
National Guard members outside Capitol Hill on Tuesday as more than 5,000 stay behind to defend DC
A massive nonscalable fence was erected outside the White House following the MAGA riots
Pittman’s statement on Thursday marked the second time this week that she has emphasized the need for increased security around the White House.
On Tuesday she testified before the House Appropriations Committee and acknowledged failures by her agency when a mob of President Donald Trump‘s supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to block the certification of Joe Biden‘s election victory.
‘On January 6th, in the face of a terrorist attack by tens of thousands of insurrectionists determined to stop the certification of Electoral College votes, the Department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours,’ Pittman told the committee, which oversees funding for USCP, in a statement obtained by DailyMail.com.
‘Although the Department fulfilled its mission of protecting Members and democracy ultimately prevailed, the insurrectionists’ actions and the Department’s inability to immediately secure the U.S. Capitol emboldened the insurrectionists and horrified millions of Americans.’
‘Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack,’ she continued. ‘By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020.
‘We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.’
‘The Department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough.’
Pittman’s extraordinary admissions came nearly three weeks after a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory
The statement offered the most detailed account yet of the USCP’s preparations for the insurrection, which led to the deaths of five people, including one of its officers.
Pittman confirmed for the first time that the Capitol Police Board had denied a January 4 request from Sund to declare a state of emergency and authorize the deployment of National Guard troops for support.
Once the violence began to unfold, the Board delayed sending in troops for an hour after receiving a second request from Sund.
Describing the few preparations that were made beforehand, Pittman said the USCP required all available officers to be on call, activated its SWAT team and increased the number of Civil Disturbance Units scheduled to work that day.
But she said the more than 1,200 officers stationed at the Capitol were ‘no match for the tens of thousands of insurrectionist (many armed) attacking the Capitol and refusing to comply with lawful orders’.
Two out of three members of the elusive Capitol Police Board – House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C Stenger – have already resigned. The third member, Architect of the Capitol J Brett Blanton, is still on the board.
She said she personally ordered a lockdown of all Capitol entrances when the ‘mob’ edged closer to the building, but said her order ‘may not have been consistently followed’.
Pittman said many officers are now suffering from PTSD, ‘particularly after the loss of two of our officers directly and indirectly as a result of the events of January 6th’
Pittman acknowledged the monumental challenges her agency faced during the chaos, noting that some resources had to be diverted away from the Capitol with the discoveries of a vehicle filled with explosives and a pipe bomb at the Republican National Convention headquarters and a vehicle.
‘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,’ she said.
But she added: ‘I do believe certain challenges the Department faced the day of the attack could have been overcome with additional preparation.’
She said that officers were not adequately supplied with crowd control munitions and there were issues with communication because they couldn’t hear their radios over the commotion.
Pittman said many officers are now suffering from PTSD, ‘particularly after the loss of two of our officers directly and indirectly as a result of the events of January 6th’.
Officer Brian Sicknick was killed during the insurrection when he was allegedly hit over the head by a fire extinguisher. Officer Howard Liebengood died by apparent suicide four days later.
In a court filing on Monday, the Department of Justice revealed that 81 USCP officers were assaulted during the chaos, along with 58 members of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.
And at least 38 Capitol cops have tested positive for COVID-19 in the nearly three weeks since, though it is unclear how many of them were on duty during the assault.
Pittman concluded her statement by saying: ‘As the Acting Chief, I take responsibility for the mistakes that were made by the Department, and I pledge to this Committee, the Congress, the American people, and my USCP colleagues, that we will do better going forward, but we need to make changes.
‘We know the eyes of the country and the world are upon us. The U.S. Capitol Police remain steadfast in addressing the new challenges that we face head on.’
Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P Blodgett also addressed the appropriations committee on Tuesday and echoed Pittman’s assertions, saying it’s ‘clear there was a failure of preparation’.
‘Whether it was insufficient or conflicting intelligence, lacking ability to translate that intelligence into action, insufficient preparation or an inadequate ability to mobilize partner agencies for immediate assistance, a series of events, once thought unfathomable, unfolded allowing our most sacred halls to be breached,’ Blodgett said.
Like Pittman, Blodgett said his entire team is committed to fixing what went wrong to prevent future attacks.
Disturbing footage from the riots has shown dozens of officers being crushed by crowds, dragged down steps, and struck with projectiles as the MAGA mob overwhelmed law enforcement to breach the legislature nearly three weeks ago.
One officer, Daniel Hodges, was filmed screaming for help as he was being crushed against a metal door frame, with blood pouring from his mouth. He has since recovered and returned to duty.
More than 150 of the thousands-strong crowd have since been arrested, with more suspects still being sought by federal authorities.
At least 31 officers in law enforcement agencies across 12 states are also currently being investigated over their suspect role in the riots.
Nancy Pelosi calls armed Republican members of Congress ‘the enemy within’ and accuses them of threatening Democrats as lawmakers demand more cash for security
Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted armed Republican members of Congress as ‘the enemy within’ the House of Representatives on Thursday as lawmakers asked for additional funds for security amid increasing threats to their safety.
‘We will probably need a supplemental for more security for members when the enemy is within the House of Representatives,’ she conceded at her press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday.
Asked to specific who she meant by the enemy within, Pelosi forcefully responded: ‘It means that we have members of Congress who want to bring guns onto the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.’
She was referencing GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who, before she was a member of Congress, liked Facebook posts that expressed support for executing top Democrats, including Pelosi.
The speaker also was referring to several Republican lawmakers who want to carry guns in the Capitol.
Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland is being investigated for trying to bring a gun onto the House floor last week. Lawmakers are allowed to carry guns in their offices and on the Capitol grounds but they are forbidden from bringing firearms into the House chamber.
Pelosi set up metal detectors to keep members from bringing weapons – violators face a $5,000 fine. Republicans have objected to the new security measures and have argued they have a right to bear arms.
But other lawmakers are concerned about colleagues being armed.
It’s not just Harris. Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado has been adamant about wanting to carry her gun in the Capitol and GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn claimed he was armed on the day of the MAGA riot.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted armed Republican members of Congress as ‘the enemy within’ the House of Representatives
Several members of Congress wrote to Pelosi and other House leaders on Thursday, asking for the flexibility and funds to hire armed guards and upgrade security measures in their districts as they are terrified of threats against them.
‘Reflecting the tense and troubling times we live in, Members of Congress have reported receiving a significant uptick in threats of violence and even death,’ states the letter, a copy of which was obtained by DailyMail.com.
The lawmakers ask for greater flexibility to use their taxpayer-funded office expenses for security measures at their homes – which would presumably include items such as bullet proof glass and alarms – in addition for personal guards for the lawmakers when they are in their districts. They also want their addresses kept a secret.
Pelosi expressed sympathy to the lawmakers concerned about their safety but noted: ‘Most of the items on their list have already been done. Perhaps they were not aware and I take responsibility for them not being aware.’
She also pledged to look into additional funding, saying ‘they shouldn’t have to have that money is there for them to meet the needs of their constituents.’
She noted the House Sergeant at Arms would send a letter to members on Thursday outlining security options and that she would meet with retired General Russel Honoré later in the day. Pelosi tasked Honore with reviewing Capitol Hill security procedures in the wake of the riot.
‘He is looking at members here and members at home and in between,’ she said, adding they want to ‘have a scientific approach to help protect members.’
The two-page letter from the concerned lawmakers argues that the internet makes information about lawmakers’ lives much more accessible, including home addresses, photos, personal details about lawmakers’ families, and real-time information on lawmaker attendance at events – which puts them at greater risk.
It asks for more funding to their Member Representational Allowance – the taxpayer money lawmakers receive to run their offices – and for greater flexibility on how that money can be spent on security matters, specifically when they are home.
They point out they have protection at the Capitol but not when they are back in their districts – which is where they spend the majority of their time.
‘While the U.S. Capitol is protected by the United States Capitol Police with the support of strong security measures, including vehicle barriers and metal detectors, most Members spend the majority of their time in their Congressional Districts where security is often sparse,’ the lawmakers note.
Specifically they ask for:
- 1) Greater flexibility for the use of MRA funds for security purposes, especially in Members’ Districts. These steps could include allowing MRA funds to directly reimburse additional capital security upgrades at District Offices; the hiring of local law enforcement or other security while Members are in their Districts; and the purchase of security items that would protect members in soft target locations, including their homes.
- 2) Concerted efforts to keep Members ‘personal information, such as their home addresses, private and off of publicly accessible websites and databases; Members should have legal recourse available if their personal address is published without permission.
- 3) Regular, bipartisan security briefings for Members on the actions that U.S. Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms are taking to keep Members, their families, and staff safe at the Capitol and in their Districts.
- 4) Conduct a full outside, independent review with recommendations of security protocols for Members both at the Capitol and in their Districts; provide more specific guidelines on the best security practices Members should take to ensure the safety of themselves, their families, and staff members.
- 5) Provide designated supplemental funds to this year’s MRA to address additional security needs, given the increased threat level.
Several members of Congress wrote to House leadership, asking permission to hire armed guards and upgrade security measures in their districts out of fear of threats