At Capitol Police Oversight Hearing Following the January 6th Insurrection, Chairwoman Klobuchar Highlights New Preparedness, Safety Efforts to Protect the Capitol
Klobuchar: “We owe it to these courageous officers to make sure they have the resources and support and the rules in place to do their jobs.”
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration, chaired an oversight hearing of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) following the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. Michael Bolton, Inspector General of the U.S. Capitol Police, testified at today’s hearing and spoke to the USCP’s efforts to improve preparedness and procedures to ensure the safety of those who work in and visit the Capitol.
Senator Klobuchar: Good morning. I call to order this hearing, which is the Rules Committee’s second oversight hearing of the United States Capitol Police following the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
As you know, Senator Blunt and I have led a series of hearings over improvements that must be made, changes that much be made, and we joined forces with Senators Peters and Portman of the Homeland Security Committee so that we had a more comprehensive look at the security failures on January 6th, which of course included mistakes at the top of the Capitol Police, mistakes of leadership within this building, and then mistakes on the side of the Defense Department and other agencies.
And so we are greatly appreciative of what Mr. Michael Bolton, the Inspector General for the Capitol Police, has done. I want to thank you for being here, Inspector Bolton. We welcome your wife, who is also with us today -- we will try not to ask her questions if you can’t answer them.
And I think you know the significance of this moment. We are here just over eleven months after the violent insurrection at the Capitol. Why? Because this Committee has responsibility of oversight of the police.
As we approach this year’s end, we will hear more today about the measures that have already been taken to improve the Capitol Police Department’s preparedness and operations, as well as the work that still needs to be done. You, Inspector General, put together a comprehensive list -- I remember Senator Blunt and I reviewing it as we prepared our own recommendations -- comprehensive list of over 100 recommendations. We consolidated some of those, came up with some of our own that, as I noted, were outside of the police department as well, and I think January 6th is a pretty good date to get the vast number of these things done, which we will be telling the Sergeant at Arms, both bodies, as well as the Capitol Police Chief. But we know progress has been made, and in the new year we will continue this discussion, as our first hearing will be with the new Capitol Police chief, and then we can get much more focused on the details of our own recommendations.
So in June -- the week before you testified, Mr. Bolton, before this Committee - we issued our bipartisan report with the Homeland Security Committee, as I noted, focused on the security, planning, and response failures of that day -- that unprecedented, horrific day.
Our report laid out key findings and recommendations, and importantly, as I noted, progress has been made in putting many of those recommendations in place.
We recommended that the Capitol Police produce a Department-wide operational plan for all large-scale events at the Capitol, and now those plans are standard procedure and have been used several times since then.
The Department has also worked to improve its handling of intelligence, including by making sure that information is shared with rank-and-file officers -- another of our recommendations.
We said that Congress should provide sufficient funding to support Capitol Police training and equipment requirements, as well as needed staffing levels, and in July President Biden signed our emergency funding legislation into law, which passed both houses of this Congress, to deliver resources to do just that. Significant resources in the supplemental budget that many of us on this Committee worked with Senator Leahy, who is a member of this Committee, as well as Senator Shelby, to make sure that these resources were included. Didn’t want to wait until year end; we wanted to get it done immediately. That legislation also provided funding for mental health support for officers, something I have strongly supported.
Another recommendation was for the Capitol Police Board to appoint a new police chief, which it did in July with the selection of Chief Manger. For the past several months, Chief Manger has worked to make needed changes and implement recommendations both from our report as well as from your Inspector General report, Mr. Bolton.
At our last hearing with you, you updated us on the review of Capitol Police policies and practices since the insurrection, including on the four reports you issued at that time. Since then, you have finished three more reports detailing issues that impacted the Department’s response to the events of January 6th, and you are finishing a final report outlining your findings and progress to address them.
Significantly, you have issued a total of 104 recommendations -- of which 30 have now been implemented -- in an effort to ensure that the Department is equipped to fulfill its mission. And it’s not as though work is not being done on the other recommendations -- as you know, they are in progress. And as I noted, we will have an ideal moment at the beginning of January to go back through, with the Chief himself, the work that needs to be done, the work that is done. And so this kind of alert to those working on these recommendations, not just, not just with the Capitol Police, but the other agencies as well. That they get their work done.
This work is crucial to improving the security of the Capitol -- and also to supporting the brave officers who served heroically in unimaginable circumstances. It was an honor to stand with some of those officers with Senator Blunt and their families as the President signed our bipartisan legislation to honor the heroes who defended our democracy with the Congressional Gold Medal.
We owe it to these courageous officers to make sure they have the resources and support and the rules in place to do their jobs. Since January 6th, anyone that walks around this Capitol, talk to officers, as I do, ask officers questions, see how they’re doing, you find out, one, that there has been some improvement in morale, which I think is really important. They lost so many of their fellow officers, including those who sadly died by suicide. But we also know from them there continues to be staff shortages. We have now put the money forward for that, but this police department, like many across the country, is facing staff shortages, and we must fill those jobs.
As our country moves forward, we know that there are many issues that merit serious consideration -- a major investigation which I support is going on, bipartisan investigation, in the House of Representatives, looking back at the root causes of what happened with recommendations. Our job today is to look at the security at the Capitol, and I look forward to discussing your findings, Inspector General Bolton, the progress that has been made in the Capitol Police Department in the past several months, and certainly the work that lies ahead, not only with the Capitol Police Department, but getting answers to the other issues we raised in our report, along with Senator Peters and Senator Portman with regard to the other agencies and how they work with the Capitol Police. Thank you very much, Mr. Bolton, and we look forward to hearing from you. I’ll turn it over to my friend and colleague, Senator Blunt.
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