Acting Capitol Police Chief Vows to Prioritize Officers’ Well-Being After No-Confidence Vote

February 14, 2021 Updated: April 20, 2021

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said on Feb. 13 that she’s committed to making progress in protecting officers’ well-being after U.S. Capitol Police officers issued a vote of no confidence in the force’s top leaders over the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.

“It’s been just over one month since one of our nation’s darkest days, and the trauma is still incredibly raw and difficult for the many officers who fought heroically on the 6th. Since being sworn in on January 8th, my executive team and I have made the well-being of our officers our top priority,” Pittman said in a statement.

“While progress has been made, more work remains. And I am committed to ensuring every officer gets what they need and deserve.”

Voting totals of seven members of the force’s leadership were shared with CNN by unidentified sources, who say each leader received a vote of no confidence from rank-and-file officers. The votes were issued against Pittman, two assistant chiefs, three deputy chiefs, and a captain of the division that staffs the Capitol.

Pittman was named acting police chief on Jan. 8 after then-USCP Chief Steven Sund announced his resignation on Jan. 7, in response to pressure from lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and critics to step down.

The no-confidence vote was initiated by the executive board of the Capitol Police Labor Committee (Capitol Police union) and was announced on Feb. 10.

Gus Papathanasiou, the Capitol Police union chairman, said in a statement at the time that “the enormity of the multiple leadership failures both in leading up to the insurrection, and in the Department’s response to it, have convinced us there is no other choice. The leadership has failed us, and we have paid a terrible price.”

The union previously noted that Pittman had acknowledged in her testimony to Congress over the Jan. 6 event that “the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020.”

“We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending,” she also told the House Appropriations Committee on Jan. 26. “We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.”

Papathanasiou didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment on the vote.

The vote follows a month after a group of rioters and some protesters breached the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were counting Electoral College votes. Thousands of other protesters peacefully protested outside the building, while one protester was fatally shot by Capitol Police, one was trampled to death, one died of a heart attack, and another from a stroke.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died from a stroke on Jan. 7 after being injured while “physically engaging with protesters” on Jan. 6, after which he “returned to this division office and collapsed,” the Capitol Police said in a previous statement. Sicknick died of natural causes, the chief medical examiner for Washington later said.

Howard Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the Capitol police, also died while “off-duty” on Jan. 10 by suicide. Another officer, Jeffrey Smith, who had served the D.C. Metro Police Department for about 12 years, reportedly took his own life after the incident.

Former President Donald Trump had offered to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops to  Washington prior to Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol building breach, on multiple occasions, but his offer was rejected “every time,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows recently told Fox News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Feb. 11 that U.S. Capitol Police officers who protected the building and lawmakers during the events of Jan. 6 will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

“It’s been such a sad time for us, but as we see what is being presented, we also see the extraordinary valor of the Capitol Police who risked and gave their lives to save our Capitol, our democracy, our lives. They are martyrs for our democracy. Martyrs for our democracy, those who lost their lives,” Pelosi told reporters in Washington during a press conference.

Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new information about Sicknick’s cause of death.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan