Apr 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Capitol police "struggling" after second attack, union chief says

Three Capitol police officers stand in front of the complex, with the U.S. flag at half-mast in the background
Capitol Police officers pay their respects on April 3 at the location where fellow officer, William Evans, was killed in an attack a day earlier. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Capitol Police is "struggling to meet existing mission requirements" in the aftermath of this year's second attack at the complex, union chief Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement this weekend, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The union says the agency is approaching "a crisis in morale and force numbers" just as calls for heightened security are renewed in the aftermath of the death of Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans on Friday.

Driving the news: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to review Capitol security measures, told ABC's "This Week" that Capitol Police "are going to have to recruit hard" in order to fulfill the security measures his task force proposed last month.

  • The plan calls for expanding the force by 1,100 officers and filling approximately 300 current vacancies.
  • Papathanasiou called on Congress to implement the proposal, which also calls for more mobile or retractable fencing.

What he's saying: "We are struggling to meet existing mission requirements even with the officers working massive amounts of forced overtime," Papathanasiou said, adding that the agency is down 233 officers below its normally 2,000-member force.

  • "In the next 3-5 years we have another 500 officers who will be eligible to retire. Many of these officers could put in their retirement papers tomorrow. I’ve had many younger officers confide in me that they’re actively looking at other agencies and departments right now."
  • "We have now lost two officers in the line of duty this year," he said. "Another officer has taken his own life and we have 80 officers who were seriously injured in the insurrection. Some of those injured officers may never return to duty."

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