In the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 that left an officer dead, the acting U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief is facing criticism after admitting that the department leadership was aware of the risk of violence posed by protestors, but failed to adequately prepare or equip officers.
Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, who replaced former Chief Steven Sund after he resigned the day following the incident, is already facing pressure from the Capitol Police union to be replaced, according to The Police Tribune.
The call for her replacement comes after a formal apology she made to Congress, where she admitted that although the department was aware of the potential for violence, they did not do enough.
According to a report in The Hill, Pittman addressed Congress in her testimony, saying, “I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the department. On Jan. 6, 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 stated that although Capitol Police prepared by putting all officers on duty, establishing a new security perimeter, and activating its SWAT team, they did not anticipate the extent of the riot.
She said, “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.”
The USCP Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was “outraged” at the chief’s admission and are calling for her replacement. FOP Chairman Gus Papathanasiou stated in a press release on Jan. 27, “The disclosure that the entire executive team (former Chief Sund, now Acting Chief Pittman and Assistant Chief Thomas) knew what was coming but did not better prepare us for potential violence, including the possible use of firearms against us, is unconscionable. The fact they did not relay this information to the officers on duty prior to the insurrection is inexcusable.”
In the aftermath of the events at the Capitol, the department is calling for a complete overhaul of its executive leadership, including Chief Pittman. Chairman Papathanasiou stated, “The officers are angry and I don’t blame them. The entire executive team failed us, and must be held accountable.”
Papathanasiou blamed Pittman for failing to share intelligence with officers, and simply “failed to lead.”
According to The Hill, Pittman blamed the police radio system for her communication failure, stressing the need for better communications and more supplies for officers on the ground. She also stated that the department will make some changes, including additional training for civil disturbances.
However, in the aftermath of a riot that left four dead and many injured, Papathanasiou believes it was a leadership problem, where their “inaction cost lives.” He ended with, “Our officers need leadership they can trust.”