The Potluck

Senate committee hears update on Capitol security ahead of Jan. 6

By: - January 5, 2022 7:34 pm

Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the U.S. Capitol building following a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A U.S. Senate committee led by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Wednesday reviewed Capitol security updates made in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and discussed remaining improvements.

In a hearing the day before the anniversary of the riot, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told members of the Senate’s Committee On Rules and Administration that the department has implemented most of the committee’s recommendations, including requiring action plans for large events and increasing training for officers.

Still, Capitol Police is struggling to recruit and retain officers — like departments across the country — and experiencing difficulties keeping up with increasing numbers of threats against lawmakers, Manger said.

In her opening remarks, Klobuchar thanked law enforcement at the Capitol for allowing lawmakers to finish certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election just hours after the attack.

“Many of us remember the insurrection for what it was, as an attack on our democracy. But it was also, as we’ll talk about today, a brutal and prolonged physical attack for the law enforcement officers who risked their lives to defend the Capitol,” Klobuchar said. 

Other Democratic members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have also made public statements ahead of the anniversary, including Rep. Dean Phillips, who was in the House gallery when the mob stormed the Capitol.

“For those who tried to say, either it didn’t happen, or what happened wasn’t a big deal … I say no, no, no. No, no, no. I was there,” Phillips told KSTP. “The U.S. Capitol was stormed by Americans.”

Minnesota’s Republican U.S. representatives, however, seem to have gone silent with the anniversary looming.

Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn declined multiple requests to comment on the anniversary, the Star Tribune reported, despite condemning the attack last year. The four members of Congress didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reformer

Last year,  the Senate Committee On Rules and Administration issued a report with five recommendations for improving the Capitol Police: conducting more training and purchasing more equipment for officers and staff, consolidating the department’s intelligence units into one centralized bureau, updating the Incident Command System, implementing department-wide planning for special events and establishing a permanent Civil Disturbance Unit.

Manger told senators that Capitol Police has made progress on almost all those recommendations. The department has hired more training staff, increased mandatory trainings for officers, started searching for a permanent intelligence director and streamlined emergency communication within the department and between agencies, he said.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.

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