U.S. Capitol Police Chief says force is “better prepared” following Jan. 6 attack at Capitol

WASHINGTON — The head of the police force in charge of protecting the U.S. Capitol says the U.S. Capitol Police Department is now better prepared for potential attacks like the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and said leadership is now working to expand the workforce.

Our Washington News Bureau sat down in a one-on-one interview with U.S.C.P. Chief Tom Manger.

“We’re better prepared,” said Manger. “We’re sharing information better. We’re collecting information more reliably.”

Manger has been on the job since July.

Manger said with decades of experience in law enforcement under his belt, he came out of retirement to serve again because of what he saw unfold on Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

“When I look back at January 6, what I saw was police officers getting assaulted,” said Manger. “Damage to the Capitol building. People unlawfully entering the Capitol building.”

Some lawmakers have called the Jan. 6 attack an insurrection, while one lawmaker called it a “normal tourist visit.”

Washington Correspondent Samantha Manning asked Manger how he defines the events on Jan. 6.

“I see it as basically a riot that occurred,” said Manger. “What I saw, it was in fact a lawless act in terms of people committing crimes, committing criminal offenses and that’s a way as a police officer for the last 43 years, I mean that’s the way I look at these things when I respond to an event. Is someone breaking the law? And if they are, it’s up to the police to fairly and judiciously enforce the law.”

Recruitment Efforts

U.S.C.P. released a new recruitment video Tuesday in an effort to fill more than 200 open available positions.

The department is authorized to staff roughly 2,000 officers and said it currently has more than 1,800.

“We are looking for really good men and women who have that spirit for public service,” Manger said in the video.

Manger said at least 100 officers have left the department since Jan. 6.

The Capitol Police union had said there were morale issues in the weeks and months following the Jan. 6. attack, which injured more than 100 officers from multiple agencies.

The department has also faced a lot of tragic loss over the last year.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from a stroke after responding to the Jan. 6 attack.

Four other officers who responded to the attack, including one from U.S.C.P and three from the Metropolitan Police Department, took their own lives.

In April, U.S. Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans was killed when a suspect rammed his car into Evans at the Capitol entrance.

“The message to my officers has been since I got here is that this department, this agency cares about you and we’re going to do everything we can to help you recover from January 6,” said Manger. “We had a lot of officers that were impacted emotionally. Impacted physically.”

“How does the department overcome these challenges now?” Manning asked.

“Well, a lot of hard work and that hard work I think began right after January 6,” said Manger. “The problems we identified were problems with equipment, training, staffing.”

Manger said the department is now holding simultaneous training academies in order to get officers sworn in sooner.

Manning also asked Manger about criminal charges pending against one officer.

On Tuesday, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley entered a not guilty plea to obstruction of justice charges for allegedly telling a rioter to get rid of evidence on social media about participating in the riot.

Manger said Riley is on administrative leave and said there will be an internal investigation to determine if or how the officer violated department policies, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Operational Changes

Manger said the department itself has also transformed how it operates since Jan. 6.

“What’s being done to ensure another January 6 attack doesn’t happen again?” Manning asked Manger.

“One of the things that we have done with the U.S. Capitol Police is to have our own stand-alone intelligence capability,” said Manger. “Prior to the 6th, it wasn’t as robust and we were basically dependent on other agencies in terms of collecting intelligence, being aware of what was going on.”

Manger said the police department has been strengthening its partnerships with other agencies.

“We’d be foolish not to believe that we’re going to be tested again and we just need to be prepared when that time comes.”