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Acting Capitol Police Chief Promises 'Significant' Changes Following Deadly Riot

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen at sunrise as the remains of U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick lays in honor in the Rotunda on Feb. 3.
Alex Edelman
AFP via Getty Images
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen at sunrise as the remains of U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick lays in honor in the Rotunda on Feb. 3.

The acting U.S. Capitol Police chief on Friday promised sweeping changes to her department in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol complex. The riot, conducted by pro-Trump extremists, left five people dead, including a police officer.

In a video statement, Police Chief Yogananda Pittman described the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol as an act of "extraordinary violence and destruction" and said the department was reviewing its policies to ensure that such acts could never happen again.

"Our executive leadership is conducting our own thorough internal review, including an extensive physical security assessment of the Capitol complex. We will be making significant changes to our operations, policies and procedures based on the findings, as well as the findings from other concurrent reviews being conducted by the department's inspector general and General Russel L. Honoré at the behest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Pittman said.

"I look forward to all of these reviews and the changes they will prompt."

Capitol Police department leadership faced blistering criticism in the immediate aftermath of the attack for allowing rioters such easy access to the complex.

In the days after the event, top security officials — including then-Police Chief Steven Sund, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger — resigned their posts following requests from leaders of both parties. Pittman was tapped to lead the department the day after Sund's resignation.

"The Jan. 6 attack forever changed this department. But working with Congress, we can and we will make it for the better," Pittman said on Friday.

Already, Capitol law enforcement have implemented tighter security at the Capitol, including fencing off the complex, which Pittman has called to make permanent, and now requiring members of the House to go through metal detectors before entering the chamber.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.