The union representing U.S. Capitol police officers on Monday gave a vote of “no confidence” in the department’s leadership after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
About 92 percent of union members voted “no confidence” in Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, who became the agency’s chief two days after the breach. Around 97 percent voted “no confidence” in Capitol Police Captain Ben Smith, according to the union.
“The current leadership is just a continuation of the past regimes on this Department and there needs to be accountability,” U.S. Capitol Police Labor Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said on Monday in a news release. “Their failures are inexcusable. This vote, which the majority of the officers in the bargaining unit participated in, shows they have lost our trust. The anger in this department is widespread and the trust that has been broken it is not going to be regained.”
Papathanasiou added that “the results of our No Confidence vote are overwhelming because our leadership clearly failed us. We know because we were there.”
Capitol Police Assistant Chief Chad Thomas saw 96 percent of officers vote “no confidence,” while other top leaders drew more than 80 percent.
“Our leaders did not properly plan for the protest nor prepare officers for what they were about to face. This despite the fact they knew days before that the protest had the potential to turn violent,” the union said on Monday. “We still have no answers why leadership failed to inform or equip us for what was coming on January 6th. Our lives, as well members of Congress and staff whom we are sworn to protect, were put at risk.”
Meanwhile, the Senate is slated to call in former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving to a Senate Homeland Security hearing.
In the aftermath, tall fences and barbed wire now surround the Capitol, cutting off streets and laying out a wide perimeter. Thousands of National Guard troops line the fences and protect the halls. Army officials later confirmed that the National Guard members would remain until mid-March, although unconfirmed reports have said they might stay deployed until the fall.
Papathanasiou further stated that “we hope Congressional leaders hear the voice of Capitol Police officers and take action. We appreciate the kind words we have received since the insurrection, but we need real change at the Department and that starts with a clean slate at the top.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.