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Capitol Police Union calls it 'unconscionable' leaders didn't better prepare for riot

LUKE BARR and JACK DATE
·4 min read

The Capitol Police Union blasted the department's leadership one day after congressional testimony by acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, who said that the department knew two days before Jan. 6 that there was a "strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target."

"The disclosure that the entire executive team (former Chief [Steven] Sund, now Acting Chief Pittman, and Assistant Chief [Chad] Thomas) knew what was coming but did not better prepare us for potential violence, including the possible use of firearms against us, is unconscionable," union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement Wednesday.

He said it was "inexcusable" that nobody relayed this to officers prior to the insurrection.

MORE: Acting DC police chief criticizes 'tepid' Army response to Jan. 6 riots

The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police apologized to lawmakers during Tuesday's hearing for not being more prepared for the attack.

"Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack," acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in written testimony to the House Appropriations Committee obtained by ABC News.

"I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department," she said in the remarks.

PHOTO: A U.S. Capitol Police car drives past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2021. (Alexander Drago/Reuters)
PHOTO: A U.S. Capitol Police car drives past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2021. (Alexander Drago/Reuters)

Metropolitan Police Department acting Police Chief Robert Contee, who ordered more than 1,000 of his officers to help defend the Capitol, provided his own testimony to the closed-door congressional hearing, telling the committee, "This assault on the Capitol has exposed weakness in security in the most secure city in the country."

The unprecedented attack had police "engaged in literal battle for hours," Contee said. "Law enforcement training neither anticipates nor prepares for hours of hand-to-hand combat."

MORE: DHS uses federal alert system for 1st time in a year to warn of domestic terrorist threat

The deaths of three U.S. Capitol Police officers in January -- one to cancer prior to the riot, one to an injury sustained in the riot and one to suicide after the riot -- and the removal of Sund, who was regarded by many as a "cop's cop" who took care of his officers, has caused anguish in the 2,000-person police force.

"Now is a time where we need unity," Andy Maybo, a Capitol Police officer and former Capitol Police Union president, told ABC News. "Now's the time we need to come together, pointing fingers and blame isn't going to correct the problem at hand."

"I don't think the blame belongs on anybody -- from Capitol Police from Steve Sund down to the newest officer around the agency," Maybo said.

PHOTO: Officer Yogananda 'Yogi' Pittman of the Capitol Police force, on the East Lawn of the Capitol, March 19, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
PHOTO: Officer Yogananda 'Yogi' Pittman of the Capitol Police force, on the East Lawn of the Capitol, March 19, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The chairman said that some of his officers sustained gruesome injuries in the Jan. 6 siege.

"I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs," Papathanasiou wrote. "One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake."

MORE: DOJ has identified 400 suspects, charged 135 in Capitol riot

Maybo stressed that the mission of the Capitol Police -- to protect members and staff -- was carried out on Jan. 6.

"The officers knew to put life over property, so when people were breaking windows or breaking doors, that didn't matter so much as long as the members of Congress, senators, the vice president and staff were protected," he explained.

Pittman also indicated in her testimony that on Jan. 4, two days prior to the insurrection, Sund asked the Capitol Police Board, which provides oversight of the department, to "declare a state of emergency and authorize a request to secure National Guard support." That request, Pittman said, was denied.

PHOTO: In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo police keep a watch on rioters who tried to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington.  (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo police keep a watch on rioters who tried to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. (John Minchillo/AP, FILE)

Architect of the Capitol and Capitol Police Board member J. Brett Blanton said in a statement Tuesday that his office has no record of such a request.

Even as the riot was ongoing, Contee testified he was "stunned at the tepid response from Department of the Army" and "shocked that the National Guard could not -- or would not" quickly respond to Sund's request to deploy forces to the Capitol in part because they "did not like the optics of boots on the ground at the Capitol."

For officers like Maybo, Sund's removal was too swift.

"Chief Sund should never have had to resign over this, the speaker of the House should never have called for his resignation, especially in light of the fact that he was begging for help, pleading for help from the National Guard," Maybo said.

Capitol Police Union calls it 'unconscionable' leaders didn't better prepare for riot originally appeared on abcnews.go.com