The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced that they will open field offices in other parts of the country as part of a “restructuring” plan to deal with threats of violence against members of Congress.
The USCP also announced several other reforms implemented since the Jan. 6 riots to overcome failures that occurred that day, such as increased training, having officers receive daily intelligence alerts on their phones, purchasing new tactical gear and equipment and bringing on former department heads as security consultants to facilitate the changes.
The first two regional offices will open in Tampa, Florida, and San Francisco, California, due to increased threats in those cities. The agency announced that more offices will be opened in the future, all apparently for the purpose of “investigating threats to Members of Congress.”
The agency released a statement to Fox News that read: “The new USCP field offices will be in the Tampa and San Francisco areas. At this time, Florida and California are where the majority of our potential threats are. The field offices will be the first for the Department. A regional approach to investigating and prosecuting threats against Members is important, so we will be working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in those locations. More field offices will be opening in the future.”
In May, the USCP reported that threats to Congress members have increased by 107% compared to 2020.
Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman summarized the steps taken by the department since the riot at the Capitol to prepare for future threats.
“Throughout the last six months, the United States Capitol Police has been working around the clock with our Congressional stakeholders to support our officers, enhance security around the Capitol Complex, and pivot towards an intelligence-based protective agency,” Pittman said.
The changes introduced by the agency were made after several reports compiled by the agency’s inspector general, congressional committees and task forces examining what transpired on Jan. 6.
In addition to tracking down and prosecuting around 500 individuals involved in the riot, Pittman said the agency is conducting “joint training with the National Guard, riot training, shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and less-than-lethal exercises.”
The department has also formulated plans to “quickly mobilize local, state, and federal manpower” to respond to planned events or emergencies through cooperation between agencies. The agency has also “vastly increased” its intelligence-gathering operation, according to Pittman.
However, Rep. John Katko – a Republican leader on the House Homeland Security Committee – believes that the agency still has work to do.
“They need a radical restructure. They need to decouple it from any political structure whatsoever,” he said. They’ve definitely made strides in the right direction, but they’re nowhere near where they should be.”
According to union leaders, the department’s morale is still at a low point and many are leaving, while those who remain are forced to work overtime.
“We’re losing guys left and right,” said one officer. “The young guys don’t want to be here and the old guys who are eligible are just rolling out.”
Further reforms may be on the horizon. A CNN article mentioned a bill pushed by House Democrats that would increase funding to the agency by $2 billion. The bill has failed to gain traction in the Senate over Republican opposition to some provisions in the bill, including a rapid response force from the National Guard.