The Capitol Police must reorient its mission from that of a “traditional police force” to a focus on anticipating and preventing attacks, similar to the approach taken by the Secret Service and other federal “protective” agencies, the department’s internal watchdog plans to tell Congress on Thursday.
Michael A. Bolton, the Capitol Police’s inspector general, has found the department overlooked its own intelligence in the run-up to the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, including an assessment that “Congress itself is the target,” and that leaders barred the force’s riot response unit from using its most powerful crowd-control measures.
In testimony he has prepared for a Thursday afternoon hearing, Mr. Bolton said the force must quickly adjust to the security challenges laid bare by the assault.
“The department needs to move away from the thought process as a traditional police department and move to the posture as a protective agency,” he wrote in a statement he plans to deliver to the House Administration Committee.
“A protective agency is postured to being proactive to prevent events such as Jan. 6,” he added.
His remarks come two days after Capitol Police Officer William F. Evans, who died after a car rammed into him as he stood guard on the Capitol plaza this month, was honored at the Capitol.
Mr. Bolton, the agency’s independent watchdog, will testify about a 104-page report he has drawn up that paints the most damning portrait yet of the lapses and miscalculations around the attack.
Classified as “law enforcement sensitive,” the document has not been released to the public, but The New York Times reviewed a copy before Mr. Bolton’s testimony, and the committee posted a summary online.
It found that the department’s own intelligence unit warned three days before the attack that aggrieved supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, including white supremacists and militia groups that promote violence, would target Congress and could pose a danger to law enforcement and civilians.
But Mr. Bolton found that when an operational plan was written two days later, leaders asserted that there were no specific known threats related to Congress.
The report also cataloged several problems related to the force’s Civil Disturbance Unit, the division charged with containing large crowds and protests.
The inspector general found that officers responding on Jan. 6 had been outfitted with protective shields that had been stored in a trailer without climate control and that “shattered upon impact.”
In another case, officers frantic for something to protect them could not access their shields during the riot because they were locked on a bus.
The problems were compounded when department leadership directed the Civil Disturbance Unit not to use some of its most powerful crowd-control tools — such as stun grenades — that rank-and-file officers later said they believed would have helped hold back the crowds that eventually overtook them and stormed into the building.
“Heavier less-lethal weapons,” Mr. Bolton wrote, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership.” He did not specify who issued those orders, a point that lawmakers are likely to question him on during Thursday’s session.
In a statement, the Capitol Police said the agency “welcomes” the review and Mr. Bolton’s recommendations. The agency said it has already begun to streamline a “comprehensive intelligence sharing process” and is working “diligently to replace aging equipment.”
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