On January 6, when the United States Capitol was overrun by a mob intent on overturning the 2020 presidential election, a survey of 315 Capitol Police officers stated that they “felt discouraged or hesitant to use force.” In addition, 150 Capitol Police officers acknowledged using violence 293 times during the day, according to the study. Nearly 14 months after the Capitol insurgency, the Government Accountability Office issued a 115-page report urging the United States Capitol Police to provide additional crowd-control training and pre-operational guidance to officers on the ground.
Some Capitol Police Officers Hesitated To Use Force
In all, 190 people had concerns or made ideas about information sharing, with one saying that “if they had any knowledge on the morning of the 6th other than ‘prepare for a long day,’ they would have approached the group with a different perspective.” More than half of the officers polled claimed that before and during the attack, advice and intelligence were “not at all clear” or “not supplied.”
According to the report, around 150 officers recalled 293 use-of-force instances, with open-hand pushing (91 occurrences) being the most common tactic used, followed by batons (83 incidents), and removing a weapon from its holster (79 incidents). Officers reported pointing a handgun at a person in 17 incidents, but only one officer fired a shot.
More training is needed, according to more than half of responders, with dozens of police demanding “extremely big or violent crowd control” courses as well as “more realistic training.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a legislative watchdog, discovered that 114 U.S. Capitol Police officers were injured after the seven-hour assault. The US Capitol building was damaged for $1.5 million as a result of the insurgency.
A quarter of those polled said they were “discouraged or unwilling to use force due to disciplinary measures.” Several respondents admitted that “optics were impacting security judgments” and that they did not feel confident in making decisions on the use of force without supervisor permission. The GAO found that the department’s post-attack meetings with officers were a “good step,” but that misunderstandings about the use of force were “persistent both before and after the incident.”
The U.S. Capitol Police Board “is not performing its responsibilities in managing the Capitol Police’s safety of Congress and the Capitol Building,” according to a second assessment released a year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.