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Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman admitted to Congress on Tuesday that her department had known armed extremists might target the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th but had subsequently failed to take “enough” actions to prevent such an attack.
The stunning bombshell testimony triggered an outpouring of outrage from the Capitol Police Labor Committee, a labor union which represents U.S. Capitol Police officers, and which is now seeking the heads of Pittman and her colleagues.
“Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack. By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020,” Pittman testified to the House Appropriations Committee.
“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.”
NEW: Acting US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda D. Pittman statement on Jan. 6 US Capitol riots:
“Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared … We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target … We did not do enough.” pic.twitter.com/HHShaBVTIs
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 26, 2021
Yet, she admitted her department — including then-chief Steven Sund, who resigned in disgrace after the Capitol riot — had failed to take “enough” actions to protect the Capitol from these known threats.
However, Pittman tried to save her skin by claiming she’d immediately ordered a lockdown once it became clear that the situation was growing out of hand.
“[O]nce it became clear that the mob was getting too close to the Capitol building, I ordered a lockdown of the Capitol, which means that every entrance should have been closed and sealed to prevent entry from the outside,” she said.
She also claimed that Sund had sought to declare a state of emergency but been denied by the Capitol Police Board.
“[O]n January 4th, former USCP Chief of Police Steven Sund requested that the Capitol Police Board declare a state of emergency and authorize a request to secure National Guard support. The Board denied the request, but encouraged Chief Sund to contact the DC National Guard to determine how many Guardsman could be sent to the Capitol on short notice, which he did,” she said.
Despite these deflections, she concluded her statement by ostensibly taking responsibility for what happened.
“As the Acting Chief, I take responsibility for the mistakes that were made by the Department, and I pledge to the Committee, the Congress, the American people, and my USCP colleagues, that we will do better going forward, but we need to make changes,” she said.
View her statement below:
Her pledge wasn’t good enough for the Capitol Police Labor Committee, which is a subset of the larger National Fraternal Order of Police, in part because they claim she’d lied.
“Acting Chief Pittman stated that she ordered the lockdown. To be clear, it was actually Inspector Loyd who initially ordered the Capitol lockdown approximately 1 hour prior to Chief Pittman’s order. That was the only time that day I heard Acting Chief Pittman on the radio,” union chair Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement Wednesday.
According to Roll Call, Pittman’s attempt to take credit for Loyd’s actions “angered rank-and-file officers” who’re now calling for her to resign and be replaced by him.
“Between USCP and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured. I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake,” Papathanasiou’s statement continued.
He also took issue with Pittman’s attempt to spread the blame throughout the entire department.
“The disclosure that the entire executive team … knew what was coming but did not better prepare us for potential violence, including the possible use of firearms against us, is unconscionable. The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable. Their inaction cost lives,” he said.
“They failed to share key intelligence with officers in advance, they failed to prepare adequately, they failed to equip our officers with a plan and on that very day, they failed to lead. This was not a ‘whole Department’ failure, but a leadership failure.”
In a response to Acting Chief Pittman’s testimony yesterday, @CapitolPolice Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou says failure to act on intelligence about possibility of violence was “unconscionable.” (h/t to my colleague @BruceLeshan for getting the letter) pic.twitter.com/Nn5jvU6bRt
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) January 27, 2021
The Capitol Police Board — or rather, the only remaining member, J. Brett Blanton, who hasn’t resigned yet — isn’t happy with Pittman either.
“On Tuesday, Blanton said in a statement that Pittman’s testimony was wrong, stating that Sund did not reach out with a request for an emergency declaration or for National Guard support and that he has no record of an emergency declaration request by Sund to the Capitol Police Board,” according to Roll Call.
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