It long has been clear that the Capitol Police were woefully unprepared for the Jan. 6 assault on Congress by rampaging supporters of then-President Donald Trump bent on overturning the results of the 2020 election. But a new report by the agency's inspector general documents in depressing detail lapses in training, readiness and intelligence assessment.
Inspector General Michael Bolton also reported that the police were ordered not to employ "heavier, less-lethal weapons" that might have dispersed the rioters. And he noted that an operational plan for the protest released on Jan. 5 stated that "there are no specific known threats" — despite a Jan. 3 intelligence assessment that "Congress itself is the target on the 6th."
In testimony last week before the House Administration Committee, Bolton urged several sensible reforms, including a beefed-up Civil Disturbance Unit, additional training for intelligence analysts and classified briefings for members of the Capitol Police on emerging threats. He also called for the Capitol Police to move to the posture of a "protective" agency like the Secret Service, which could position it better to respond to threats such as the Jan. 6 riot.
It's obvious that the Capitol Police need to be better prepared for violent protests and to be more alert to intelligence about such threats, given the increase in domestic terrorism in this country.
Hard decisions must be made about how to balance public access to the Capitol, including for nonviolent protesters, with security for members of Congress at a time of legitimate concerns about violent domestic extremism.
When some of the Jan. 6 invaders suggested that they were doing nothing wrong because the Capitol is "the people's house," they were perverting an important principle: that Americans should be able to see their representatives at the seat of the national government. But that wasn't the goal of the Jan. 6 rioters, whose mission was antithetical to democracy.
The Capitol Police must be better trained to anticipate and respond to such violence.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES