Police chief: More officers needed to fully reopen Capitol

The United States Capitol’s police chief said his recommendation was to move forward with a gradual reopening of the United States Capitol rather than a full reopening for security reasons.

WASHINGTON — The United States Capitol Police Chief told lawmakers Wednesday he recommends moving forward with a phased reopening of the United States Capitol as his agency works to overcome the attrition after the January 6 insurrection and delays in hiring due to the pandemic.

Testimony before a House subcommittee underscores that ongoing security concerns play a major role in restricting public access to the Capitol, an increasingly sticky point with lawmakers on both sides calling for a back to normal after two years of restrictions.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said the department does not have the staff to staff the number of positions deemed necessary to secure the Capitol and adjacent offices. Additional messages were added after January 6.

“I regret that we are the bottleneck, we are the problem in terms of fully reopening,” Manger said.

The Capitol saw a return of more visitors this week with congressional offices limited to a weekly visit. The adjacent Capitol Visitor Center would reopen for a limited number of people on May 30.

“By the end of the summer, hopefully we can do a bit more,” Manger said.

Congress increased funding for the agency after Jan. 6 to increase hiring, cover overtime costs, and bolster security at the complex itself. Danger bonuses were paid to officers who responded to the insurrection and retention bonuses were paid to reduce attrition levels which temporarily doubled their normal rate. The budget for the coming year recommends an increase of approximately 17% in funding.

However, Mr Manger said time was needed to build up the number of officers the agency needed. He said the agency had about 1,850 officers, but was short about 300 to meet its needs. Some of these positions have already been authorized and approximately 130 officers are in training. Meanwhile, the agency in a typical year, loses about 75 to 80 through attrition.

“I believe at this point we’re actually ahead of attrition, but we still have a ways to go before we get to where we need to be,” Manger told lawmakers.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who leads the Capitol’s police spending subcommittee, told Manger that lawmakers understood it was a “heavy blow” to bring the ranks of the agency where they need to be.

“The American people want to come back here. The schools want to come back here. Tourists want to come back here,” Ryan said. “Given everything that’s going on in the world, I think we need to do everything we can to make sure people can come and remember how great America is. is important, how important Le Capitole is.

ABC News

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