During the year since the assault on the Capitol in Washington, the police force in charge of ensuring the safety of this symbol of American democracy it has been totally transformed.
Those who were commanders of the Capitol Police last January 6 were dismissed, among accusations of lack of intelligence and other failures that left the legislative palace vulnerable.
And viewed from a broader angle, that previously largely unknown law enforcement agency now has a much higher profile, leading to a 15% increase in your financing and a greater awareness of its role among the various agencies that protect the US capital.
Given the deep political polarization of the country and the unprecedented number of threats against legislatorsDoubts remain as to whether the Capitol Police is in a position to withstand a similar attack. But experts agree that the trauma of the insurrection led to much-needed improvements, such as more effective communication between their commanders and with other law enforcement agencies, and even with the public.
“It has been a total turnaround between last year and this year in terms of the planning and operation of the Capitol Police,” explained Chuck Wexler, director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization that studies the professionalism of police forces. from the country.
“Today they are prepared to spare, and they do not mind being criticized for being well prepared, “he added.
In February, the then Commander of the Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman admitted in a congressional interpellation that there were a large number of failures that allowed the irruption of the mob of ultra-rightists in the legislature. But he denied that the agency had not taken the threat seriously, noting that a few days before the insurrection, the Capitol Police had circulated a document warning that extremist groups were preparing for violent events.
The Capitol Police had amassed a large number of intelligence reports that protesters could turn violent and lash out at the Capitol. The reports, to which the agency AP had access, they warned that there could be thousands of protesters and that among them there could be members of the far-right group Proud Boys.
The Capitol Police is overseen by a board made up of the House and Senate security chiefs, and the Capitol Building Administrator. In July, the board elected J. Thomas Manger, formerly the chief of Fairfax County in Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland, as the commander of the Capitol Police.
Manger has focused on applying changes to the Capitol Police, comprised of 1,800 sworn officers and nearly 400 civilian employees. It has ordered new equipment and new training sessions, along with the National Guard and other agencies. It has also promoted greater support among comrades and more psychological support services for officers.
“I think the damage done on January 6 was not just to the Capitol building. It was not only the deaths and injuries suffered by the men and women of the Capitol Police, by the protesters, by all those who were on the Capitol grounds that day, ”Manger said in an interview with AP in September.
“The damage went much further: it damaged the public’s confidence that the Capitol could be adequately defended, ”he added.
(By Michael Balsamo and Farnoush Amiri – AP)
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