U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger testifies Wednesday before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing to examine the U.S. Capitol Police about the January 6 attack. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police testified in the Senate on Wednesday, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, updating lawmakers on improvements to the building's security.
Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger appeared in front of the Senate rules committee at a hearing titled "Oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police Following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol."
Wednesday's was the third oversight hearing on the subject by the rules committee.
In his opening remarks, Thomas told the committee that Capitol Police are more prepared than ever to protect the building and acknowledge past failures that led to the historic breach a year ago by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump who tried to block certification of Joe Biden's election.
"The events of January 6 did expose critical departmental failures and deficiencies with operational planning, intelligence, staffing, training and equipment," acknowledged Thomas, who previously served as chief of police in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Thomas outlined the steps his department has taken over the past year to ensure it is better prepared moving forward, should similar events occur.
"We have addressed a significant portion of the recommendations issued to the department. In fact, of the more than 100 recommendations issued by the inspector general, we have implemented and are addressing over 90 of them," said Manger.
"The staff report issued by your committee listed five recommendations directed to the U.S. Capitol Police. I can tell you that the department has implemented or is in the process of implementing each one of them. The committee concluded that an important contributing factor to the breach of the Capitol was the lack of a department-wide operational plan for the joint session," Manger said.
To that end, the department has hired a former secret service official who specializes in operational planning and will oversee future events.
Many of the recommendations zeroed in on intelligence sharing, which Manger says was a known issue prior to the attack on the Capitol.
"Few changes are as dramatic as the ones we have made to the way we gather, analyze, share, use and disseminate intelligence. Improvements to the department's lead intelligence component, the Intelligence and Inter-agency Coordination Division, began before Jan. 6," Manger said.
"The department recognized that the IICD's decentralized structure had created informational silos," said Manger, adding the department also expects to name a permanent intelligence director in the coming weeks and has hired nine new analysts.
He called improvements made so far "significant" but said the department will "continue to be forward looking in our efforts to ensure that the department has a strong and proven intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination program."
The veteran law enforcement official also addressed a lack of equipment and coordination among the department's Civil Disturbance Unit, which handles front-line situations.
The CDU has been reorganized into permanent brigades with more information sharing between officers.
"We have done other things too. We can now deploy 100 trained and certified bike officers to complement the CDU operations," said Manger.
Police fight with rioters supporting former President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Manger also addressed communication issues related to requesting assistance from the National Guard, saying a new rule put in place "clearly cuts through the red tape," allowing the Capitol Police Chief to make that call directly.
Asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar if the U.S. Capitol was better prepared for such an attack one year later, Manger didn't hesitate, answering "Yes, absolutely," before adding that more still needs to be done to improve readiness.
Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo