The US Capitol Police division tasked with protecting congressional leaders was understaffed, didn’t have the right kind of equipment and lacked a comprehensive plan during the Capitol riot on January 6, a new department watchdog report says.
In an October report reviewed by CNN, Inspector General Michael Bolton circulated his office’s findings that concluded the Dignitary Protection Division was “exceptional” in evacuating members of Congress but still warranted a series of recommendations to be better prepared moving forward.
According to the report, the division did not have the proper ballistic vests “to meet its mission,” lacked a comprehensive plan for the day of the attack, and did not have the “proper number” of personnel. The report recommends an overhaul of the division’s training program and stresses the need for additional staff, equipment and planning ahead of large events.
The report is the seventh in a series of monthly examinations into the department’s failings. Among the several criticisms, the Inspector General pointed out the Dignitary Protection Division lacked a dedicated training staff and a sufficient training facility.
Further, the report noted a Capitol Police official estimated that the division needs around 50 more agents to manage growing strains such as airport transfers and staffing for congressional delegations — a challenge that underscores the ways in which the department continues to grapple with the fallout of the insurrection more than nine months after the attack.
The mere shock of the event, and the criticism of the department that followed, has led the department to make some quick changes — and Capitol Police said in a statement last week the department is “already working to address the recommendations” outlined in the latest inspector general report.
“The Department is working diligently to provide agents with the best equipment and training, so they can safely carry out our critical mission,” the statement said. “The USCP would welcome additional training staff as well as a larger training facility that would better accommodate the Department’s large size and mission.”
The report also examined mishaps in connecting Capitol Police to other agencies as part of a DC-area mutual aid agreement. More than 1,700 additional people from 19 different agencies assisted Capitol Police that day, but “officials stated they were not able to consistently escort responding units to areas where support was needed,” the report found.
In its statement, the Capitol Police cited its approach to the September 18 right-wing rally outside the Capitol as evidence of “major changes” to their planning process. “The event was a valuable test of our new methods to prepare for events. We had clearly defined roles for responding agencies, pre-determine rally points and developed protocols for swearing-in responding agencies.”
Bolton also highlighted that while Capitol Police leaders have previously claimed the situation was an “all-hands-on-deck” scenario, the department couldn’t prove it canceled days off or that it issued department-wide alerts to bring officers back to duty.
Capitol Police told Bolton’s office the department employed more than 1,800 sworn employees on January 6, with 1,500 working that day. The report concluded between roughly 1,200 and 1,450 officers were on site the day of the riot, with more than 300 on leave, but gave no explanation for the change in numbers throughout the day.
“Out of the Department’s approximately 1800 sworn employees, nearly 1460 were on site and working on January 6,” Capitol Police said in response. “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.”
Bolton’s report also pointed out the department gave inaccurate numbers for sworn employees — first claiming the department had 1,840 sworn employees on January 6, but months later revising that number to 1,816.
“The lack of appropriately maintained employee information could impede the effectiveness of the Department’s planning for responses to future events,” the report said.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.