The Capitol Police department needs to restructure its civil disturbance unit and overhaul its intelligence operation, glaring problems that hampered the department’s ability to secure the Capitol during the attack on Jan. 6.
The summary of Capitol Police Inspector General Michael A. Bolton’s findings, obtained by CQ Roll Call, illustrates a department woefully unprepared for the deadly pro-Trump insurrection, including a lack of training and operational planning deficiencies. Bolton will appear Thursday before the House Administration Committee to discuss his work.
Bolton, in his prepared testimony, says the department needs to undergo a fundamental culture transformation.
“In regards to culture change, we see that the Department needs to move away from the thought process as a traditional Police Department and move to the posture as a Protective Agency,” Bolton will say. “A police department is a reactive force. A crime is committed; police respond and make an arrest. Whereas, a Protective Agency is postured to being proactive to prevent events such as January 6th.”
The civil disturbance unit, or CDU, a collection of officers tasked with quelling riots and dealing with other large events, was lacking on a wide range of fronts, according to Bolton’s report.
“USCP did not have adequate policies and procedures for CDU defining its responsibilities, duties, composition, equipment, and training,” Bolton wrote. “CDU was operating at a decreased level of readiness as a result of a lack of standards for equipment, deficiencies noted from the events of January 6, 2021, a lapse in certain certifications, an inaccurate CDU roster, staffing concerns for the unit, quarterly audits that were not performed, and property inventories not in compliance with guidance.”
Officers get CDU training at the academy, but most officers don’t have the corresponding CDU gear, according to a Capitol Police officer who spoke with CQ Roll Call on the condition of anonymity.
“Out of our uniformed division, we probably have close to 1,400 officers. 200 of them have gear. That’s it,” the officer said.
In the past, the department has taken gear from officers as they rise in seniority and transferred it to the younger officers who comprise a large portion of the CDU.
“They took our helmets. They took our gas masks,” the officer said of when their gear was taken years back. “We never got that stuff back. So that day (Jan. 6) I had no gear whatsoever. Been asking for it.”
Bolton notes that the department needs to improve its CDU training and the way it handles munitions and equipment. This includes a recommendation that the Capitol Police develop policies for CDU equipment standards and implement procedures to formalize the CDU’s mission, objectives and responsibilities.
On Jan. 6, many officers were not properly equipped, according to the officer.
“About half of the officers who were fighting that day didn’t have helmets. I was there. I was one of those officers that didn’t have a helmet,” the officer said. “And then a lot of the officers that did have helmets — that were on the CDU squad — all their CDU equipment was sitting on a bus because they were told to stand on the West Front without their equipment.”
In his testimony Bolton notes that several department officials said they were “not familiar” with the CDU operation plan for Jan. 6.
Eighty Capitol Police officers were seriously injured defending the Capitol that day.
Bolton also suggests developing a leadership training program in the unit that focuses on command tactics and responsibilities. The department needs to increase its supply of less-lethal weapon systems, train and certify more CDU grenadiers, conduct regular safety inspections to avoid using expired munitions and implement procedures for management to dispose of such munitions in a timely fashion.
The report says riot shields need to be stored at the proper temperature to avoid compromising their effectiveness. There should also be a process in place for reporting when the shields are not stored properly, including when they are exposed to gasoline and diesel, Bolton said.
Two of the reports prepared by Bolton, one from February and one from March, highlight intelligence as an area in desperate need of change at the department.
Bolton wrote that “the Department’s failure to update and document evaluations of its intelligence priorities, reemerged. We also identified intelligence related deficiencies with the Department’s organizational structure, training, professional standards, internal controls, and capability to effectively collect, process, and disseminate intelligence information.”
Despite the inspector general’s findings, Capitol Police officials have defended their intelligence operations at public hearings.
Before she was promoted to head the department on Jan. 8, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman oversaw the Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division (IICD), which partners with other security and law enforcement agencies to obtain information about potential threats to Congress.
“Following the events of January 6th, it has been suggested that the Department either was ignorant of or ignored critical intelligence that indicated that an attack of the magnitude experienced on January 6th was known and probable,” Pittman said in written testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee in February. “This implication simply is not true.”
Bolton's testimony says otherwise.
“USCP failed to disseminate relevant information obtained from outside sources regarding planned events for January 6, 2021,” Bolton will say in his written testimony.
Pittman has also said her department received only an email warning of “war” at the Capitol, disputing testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said his agency communicated the intelligence three different ways on the eve of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Even if she saw the threat report, Pittman said, the department would not have changed its security posture.
“We do not believe that that document in and of itself would have changed our posture,” Pittman testified on Feb. 25.
Bolton suggests the Capitol Police reorganize its intelligence functions into a single intelligence bureau, institute a formal intelligence training program and establish formal guidance that applies to the department’s collection, processing and reporting of information.
His reports show a lack of consistency in how officials viewed intelligence leading up to the Capitol attack.
“Interviews with USCP officials revealed a lack of consensus about whether intelligence information regarding planned events on January 6, 2021, actually indicated specific known threats to the Joint Session of Congress,” Bolton's testimony says. “Certain officials believed USCP intelligence products indicated there may be threats but did not identify anything specific, while other officials believed it would be inaccurate to state that there were no known specific threats to the Joint Session based on those same USCP intelligence products.”
The report states the department should implement formal guidance to ensure unified operational reporting in all intelligence and event planning documents; refine document reporting that better captures operational impact to include improbable outcomes based on intelligence and other factors; implement guidance mandating employees communicate any intelligence reports and concerns from external sources to appropriate commanders, and develop an action plan in the coming weeks.
When it comes to planning for events, the Capitol Police must put into place detailed guidance for operational planning that designates the entities responsible for overseeing the plan. The department should also establish a process requiring documentation of supervisory review and approval, and standardize planning document formats.
The department released a statement pledging to heed the report and improve its operations.
“The United States Capitol Police welcomes the USCP Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) review and its recommendations. The Department understands and supports the evaluation of the events of January 6 and implementing changes to improve its operational readiness and the physical security infrastructure of the Capitol Complex,” read the official statement, which was not attributed to a specific department figure.
What's to come
Members on the House Administration Committee will likely have a lot of questions for Bolton.
After she was briefed by Bolton in late March, Chairperson Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., decided to convene a hearing on what she called “disturbing findings and important recommendations.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar, who sits on the panel and is vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said the committee is focused on doing what is needed to move the department forward and improve operations.
“We’re focused on how we move forward. What we need to do from a training perspective to, you know, help the Capitol Police,” the California Democrat said. “These are folks who help us each and every day and protect us. We need to make sure that that they have the proper training and the proper command and control in order to do their jobs. And so that’s what the House Administration Committee is focused on.”
Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.