Capitol Police to Expand Outside D.C. to Track Threats

The agency charged with protecting Congress is transforming itself in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, which exposed serious deficiencies in training and preparedness.

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Capitol Police plan to open field offices outside Washington to track threats to lawmakers.

Months after the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol Police is opening field offices in California and Florida.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

July 6, 2021, 12:58 p.m. ET

Six months after a mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol, the United States Capitol Police is planning to expand operations outside Washington in an effort to better protect lawmakers, beginning with the opening of field offices in California and Florida.

Tim Barber, a spokesman, said the plan was to open several additional regional offices as the department charged with protecting Congress transforms itself in the aftermath of the attack, which exposed serious deficiencies in the Capitol Police’s gathering and dissemination of intelligence, preparedness and training.

Much like the Secret Service, which has field offices in multiple states and countries, the Capitol Police need to be able to monitor and quickly investigate threats against lawmakers wherever they occur, Mr. Barber said.

Yogananda D. Pittman, the acting chief of force, has testified before Congress that total threats against lawmakers have doubled since 2017, with an “overwhelming majority of suspects residing outside” the capital region.

The announcement came as Capitol Police presented a number of steps the agency has taken since the attack, which left dozens of officers from the department and the District of Columbia police force bloodied and injured. Lawmakers evacuated the Capitol and some cowered inside as the rioters, incensed by Mr. Trump’s lie of a stolen election, tried to stop Congress from formalizing President Biden’s victory.

Some of the rioters hunted members of Congress by name, and in the days before the assault, loyalists of Mr. Trump posted messages on far-right chat websites saying they needed to target lawmakers to force them to overturn the election.

Hours after the attack, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from a stroke after battling the mob. Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide not long after, as did a D.C. police officer, Jeffrey Smith.

“We will never forget U.S.C.P. Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” a statement from the Capitol Police said.

The agency said it had instituted better training, purchased more protective equipment and provided more robust mental health services for officers since the attack.

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