Capitol Police Setting Up Field Offices To Address Spiking Threats Against Lawmakers

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 21: Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
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July 6, 2021 10:48 a.m.

The acting Capitol Police chief announced Tuesday that the force will be setting up field offices in California and Florida, with more locations to come, to help address the spike in threats against members of Congress.

The release, signed by acting chief Yogananda Pittman, marked the changes and improvements the force has been making on the six-month anniversary of the Capitol insurrection.

Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton testified before Congress in May that his office had been aware of the shortage in manpower to handle those lawmaker threats since at least 2020, and that the “caseload has basically exploded” since then. Capitol Police have said that in 2021 alone, threats against members were up 107 percent compared to the previous year.

Pittman added Tuesday that Capitol Police will also bulk up its protection of lawmakers while they are away from Washington D.C.

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Another change the force is lobbying for stems directly from one of the most befuddling failures on January 6, when still-murky delays kept the D.C. National Guard from arriving to help the overwhelmed officers until the attack was over.

“It is also working with Congressional oversight and the Capitol Police Board to obtain the authority to immediately request National Guard assistance if needed without having to wait for board approval,” Pittman wrote of the department.

Advocates for D.C. statehood have pointed to the hours of delays from various links of the chain of command as an argument in their favor, given that the D.C.’s district status forces the mayor to wait on federal permission to deploy the Guard.

Many of the other changes center on training, an area IG Bolton consistently pointed to as lacking. In one of his reports, he revealed that Capitol Police had been training at private companies, including one that used troubling imagery on its website.

The Capitol Police force has been the subject of multiple disparate congressional investigations so far, in part because examining other factors of Jan. 6 besides the security breakdowns — including former President Donald Trump’s actions — has been too politically radioactive.

That, at least, will likely change soon. The House passed a resolution standing up a select committee to investigate the attack and its causes last week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already announced her appointees for the body, which will have subpoena power and no deadline for a final report. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has yet to announce his picks, which Pelosi has to approve.

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