U.S. Capitol Police defend the Capitol building from pro-Trump rioters on January 6. Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman on Tuesday announced changes to the police force that have been developed over the last six months. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
July 6 (UPI) -- On the six-month anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, U.S. Capitol Police on Tuesday announced a number of departmental changes that it says will better protect officers and members of Congress -- and offer new therapeutic support, including two wellness dogs.
Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman announced the updates in a statement titled, "After the Attack: The Future of the U.S. Capitol Police."
Tuesday's update detailed many changes developed or implemented since radical supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol in a bid to disrupt Congress' certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory.
Pittman noted changes in eight main areas -- expanded wellness services, member protection, training, critical incident response planning, law enforcement and operational planning experts, equipment and technology, communication and recruitment.
The wellness improvements include the addition of two support dogs, Lila and Filip, and better support for psychological trauma and stress.
The department also said it will open regional field offices in Florida and California to investigate threats aimed at members of Congress.
Additional changes include sending officers to train with the National Guard and training them in force, tactical, equipment, leadership and incident command.
Also, Pittman noted, the department can now request help from the National Guard during similar emergency incidents like the Capitol attack. A loan from the Defense Department will contribute to the installation new campus surveillance.
Many of the changes announced Tuesday resulted from a number of investigations and reviews stemming from the Jan. 6 riot, which killed multiple people including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Nearly 150 officers were injured.
Retired U.S. Secret Service Agent Wesley Schwark will assist with department-wide operations planning, the department said, calling the move "another critical step to ensure a violent attack like Jan. 6 never happens again."
"Since that day, our team has been working with federal law enforcement agents to track down the suspects and bring them to justice. So far more than 500 defendants face charges," Pittman said in a statement.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced several members of a select committee to investigate the U.S. Capitol attack, including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo