The United States Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger recently warned of a high threat level to the Capitol and to lawmakers in preparation for the Jan. 6 anniversary, but doesn’t expect there to be a repeat this year.
“The threat level is much higher than it was a year ago,” said new chief Tom Manger in an interview with CBS News. “It’s exponentially higher than it was five years ago.”
The statement comes after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Capitol police spoke about the gaps in their security that need fixing and the alarming amounts of intelligence threats lawmakers are receiving.
“We are probably in one of the most volatile, complex and dynamic threat environments that I have experienced in my career,” said John Cohen, a lead counterterrorism official at the DHS. Cohen referenced an increase in stalking, harassment, or threatening social media posts against lawmakers.
Based on an intelligence assessment, the agencies warned state and local officials there could be a potential for violence at the Capitol for the anniversary of last year’s riot.
“Threat actors will try to exploit the upcoming anniversary” to promote or commit violence, the intelligence assessment said, according to a source familiar with the document. The document also warned that beliefs of election fraud are still prominent among what it referred to as “domestic violent extremists.”
Since last year’s riot, D.C., Capitol, and Federal law enforcement agencies have made a concerted effort to increase intelligence-sharing and “proactive law enforcement” strategies.
However, sifting through the information presented on social media, anonymous phone calls, and other violent communications has been difficult.
“We’re barely keeping our head above water in terms of looking at these cases,” said Manger, who said he needs more analysts to deal with the amount of information.
“Right now, we’re prioritizing the ones that are most concerning,” Manger said. “We’re going to have to get additional folks to handle these kinds of threats.”
The 1,800 strong Capitol police force was investigating around 9,000 cases of threats against lawmakers by the end of 2021. The number represents a sharp increase over the last few years, though not all threats are credible.
The FBI currently maintains 2,700 open cases of domestic violence extremism, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to the FBI, the threat is again linked with the ideology of white supremacism.
Since Chief Manger took over the force, he has made several changes, including improving planning and introducing other protocols like sharing daily intelligence briefings with officers via cell phone.
Authorities have also bolstered staffing numbers and erected a fence around the Capitol. Manger is positive that their safety measures will stand up against future threats.
“There could be a situation where something unexpected happens that we’re not prepared for, but I will tell you that today, it is much less likely something like [January 6] could occur because of the things that we’ve put into place,” Manger said.
“There’s going to be times when we’re probably dealing with violence,” Manger forecasted. “But in the future, we will have the people we need, the plan in place, and everything else that we didn’t have on the sixth.”