The US Capitol Police is mired in a serious crisis after the recent attacks on the legislature: first the assault by a mob on January 6 and then last Friday, when an individual rammed his vehicle into a protective barrier.
One of the guards died in the attack on Friday and another was injured, while in the events of January —When a mob of supporters of then President Donald Trump stormed the congressional grounds — one guard was killed while another committed suicide shortly after.
A large number of officers are considering early retirement, some commanders have resigned and those who have stayed have come under severe criticism. The events of the last four months could alter not only the operation of said police force but also the rule according to which the historic legislative compound must remain open to the public.
The head of the Capitol Police union revealed that many officers are “heartbroken” after the death of Officer Billy Evans in Friday’s attack. Evans had been a member of the Protective Corps for 18 years.
Hundreds of the officers are considering retirement or seeking employment elsewhere, union director Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement.
“They continue to work despite a crisis of mind looming and a reduction in the ranks,” he declared, stating that the guards are being forced to work “a massive amount” of overtime.
Dozens of the guards were injured in the events of January 6 and others have been suspended while the investigation into what happened continues, including the incident in which one of the officers shot and killed a 35-year-old woman who tried to enter the force through a window. As a consequence, the ranks of the Capitol Police have been reduced: there are more than 200 vacant places, that is, 10% of the total.
In the months since the assault on the legislative palace, many officers have had to work 12 hours straight or even longer. They protected the building during President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony and later during the impeachment of Trump, accused of instigating the insurrection.
“This opens the wound and causes more uncertainty and concern about that security body and what is happening inside,” said Tim Ryan, Democratic representative and head of a commission that decides the financing of the Capitol Police.
“I also believe that this has become a very personal issue for many of us who love and respect the Capitol Police, even today more than before, for what they did on January 6 and for immediately continuing to work to ensure safety in the inauguration ceremony, “he added.