Capitol Police chief talks about insurrection, says force is ‘in a better place’

Capitol Riots

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The newly installed Capitol Police chief admits some officers had “questionable judgment” during the deadly January 6 insurrection, but says the force is in a much better place than it was nearly a year ago.

Among the failures laid bare by the insurrection: bad advance intel on extremist groups and their plans — something Chief J. Thomas Manger said he is working to fix.

“We’ve got a standalone intelligence capability that we didn’t have prior to January 6,” Manger said. “We’re still plugged into all of our federal partners, Homeland Security and the FBI.”

An internal report earlier this year found that serious gaps in tactical gear including weapons, training and intelligence capabilities contributed to security problems during the Jan. 6 melee. In his report, Capitol Police Inspector General Michael A. Bolton cast serious doubt on the force’s ability to respond to future threats and another large-scale attack.

Despite the investigation that says as many as six officers violated procedures, Manger says the allegations don’t represent officers working with rioters.

“We don’t have a problem with police officers that were not upholding the rule of law that were in cahoots, if you will, with the demonstrators and helping them breach the Capitol,” Manger told NewsNation’s Evan Lambert. “There are officers that made mistakes, there are officers that did, again, had questionable judgment on some of the things that they did.”

At least nine people on Jan. 6 died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that immediately followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner later determined he died of natural causes.

Manger took over in late July, months after the former chief resigned amid the fallout from the insurrection. 

The Sept. 18 rally was Manger’s first test. Supporters of those jailed for their part in the Jan. 6 riots rallied at the Capitol. Police put up fences around Capitol grounds and flooded the area with armed law enforcement.

“We had to ensure that we didn’t have a repeat of January 6,” Manger said. “We had to ensure to restore the confidence of the American public, to restore the confidence of the members of Congress.”

The Capitol Police are part security agency, part local police — it has an annual budget of approximately $460 million and about 2,300 officers and civilian employees to police the Capitol grounds and the people inside the building, including all the lawmakers and staff. By contrast, the entire city of Minneapolis has about 800 sworn officers and a budget of roughly $193 million.

An additional task force charged with reviewing Jan. 6 said the Capitol Police already has the ability to “track, assess, plan against or respond to” threats from domestic extremists who continue to potentially target the building.

The report recommended a major security overhaul, including the funding of hundreds of new officer positions and establishing a permanent “quick response force” for emergencies.

But those changes would require massive influx of money. In a $2.1 billion measure in July, Congress delegated nearly $71 million, with much of that funding going to cover overtime costs.

Still, Manger told the Associated Press, “I think that what we have in place today is an improvement over what we had a year ago or nine months ago.”

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