- A Capitol police officer told Insider that he and others expected an additional shift last Wednesday, but were sent home instead.
- The incomplete force was crushed when pro-Trump invaded the Capitol. Authorities did not regain control for hours.
- The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the top brass of leaving the forces with incompetent staff and unprepared to deal with the crowd.
- “The lack of labor has caused the whole terrible disaster,” he said. We just didn’t have the numbers.
- Capitol police have not responded to repeated requests for comment.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
A U.S. Capitol police officer blamed the leadership of the staffing department with a shortage of personnel last week for the protest in support of Trump, which led to rebels who stormed the Capitol building and caused chaos.
The official asked to remain anonymous, citing the department̵
He said he worked last night last week and was puzzled that he and his colleagues had been sent home earlier than expected on Wednesday. He also said no one had asked him to return after the attack.
Insider contacted Capitol police for comment twice, but did not receive a response until Monday, two days after the first request.
The officer said everyone in the department knew in advance about the march in support of Trump, and he thought it would be a hands-on situation on deck.
The officer packed a backpack full of protein bars and coffee, expecting to work in the afternoon after his regular shift ended at 7 a.m.
But instead, he said, the top brass sent its shift home at 10 a.m.
“Naive, I thought, well, they need to know something we don’t know. Maybe they have information showing they’re not going up the hill,” or “they don’t think they’re so violent,” he said.
“I trusted that they knew what they were doing by letting us go home,” he said.
“Then, of course, I woke up in the afternoon when my wife told me they had broken the Capitol,” the officer said.
The officer said he checked his phone, expecting to find a bunch of missed calls asking him to get to work, but was shocked that he didn’t find it at all.
“They didn’t even try to call us,” he said.
The officer said he found it particularly strange for his bosses to refuse additional officers, given that many of his colleagues were ill with the coronavirus.
“The lack of labor has caused the whole terrible disaster,” he said. We just didn’t have the numbers.
The officer was clear that he believed that the people who were ultimately to blame for what had happened were the riots.
But he said senior officers share some of that responsibility for the low level of staff and the lack of emergency assistance from other agencies.
He said he was not sure why the aid was refused, but that many agencies were reluctant to accept outside aid because “they are reluctant to admit that they need it”.
He said it was the “right call” for Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sund to resign after the siege, as the situation could be “absolutely” avoided.
“If we had each hand on deck and accepted outside help, I believe we could prevent them from entering,” the officer said.
Sund told The Washington Post on Sunday that he called for reinforcements six times on Wednesday, but was blocked and eventually received little help.
It is not taken as seriously as BLM
The officer said he saw a big difference in the way his department prepared for the Black Lives Matter protests this summer and how it handled the demonstration in support of Trump on Wednesday.
“I worked against George Floyd’s protests over the summer and it was a situation on deck. We were all ready for it. They didn’t send anyone home for it,” the officer said.
“Why wasn’t this taken as seriously as they took the potential for violence from George Floyd’s protests? Because they took it pretty unpleasantly seriously,” he said.
Capitol police have also been criticized for fewer arrests made during Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol than during the BLM protests and the anti-Trump protests in Washington.
The policeman said he could understand why no more arrests were made at the moment, because each arrest occupied an officer who could otherwise help secure the area.
Read more: A congressional police calculation is pending, which allowed the worst violation of the US Capitol since the British burned the building in 1814.
He gave a possible explanation for why more arrests were made at other protests. He said there were “mass arrest teams” in some marches, but did not think anyone was working on Wednesday.
He said these teams were set up for situations where the demonstration was peaceful and protesters were trying to be arrested “to make a point”. He said he wasn’t sure they would be appropriate on Wednesday, when every officer was needed to defend the Capitol.
Capitol police did not respond to Business Insider’s request to confirm that no mass arrest teams were working on Wednesday.
The officer said he did not understand why police officers did not make more arrests when the rebels began retreating on Wednesday.
“It kind of confused me for a second, but I’m sure the goal was to keep as many officers on the ground as possible,” he said.
“I’m sure the thinking was” We did them in front of the camera. We can look at them and look for them later and pick them up after the fact, “he said.
He said inequality in the treatment of the Trump mafia and BLM protesters could be seen as tacit support for the rebels.
“We seem to prefer white nationalists to peaceful protesters protesting against illegal shootings,” he said. “I understand it looks awful.”
Questions about police loyalty in the Capitol
The officer also turned to two videos showing some officers opening barricades and bringing people into the Capitol complex and an officer taking selfies with some Trump supporters.
Both videos have led many to wonder if the department or some of the employees were complicit in the violation.
The officer who spoke to Insider said he had worked with many Trump supporters, but no one was so fanatical as to risk his job supporting the uprising.
The officer said he did not recognize the cop posing for a selfie with Trump supporters, but he hoped he did not attract that attention.
He also said he had no “idea” why some officers had been caught video-opening the gates and removing people through them.
“Maybe there’s a tactical reason for that,” he said. “I don’t know of any officer who just wants to stand by and let these guys go. If they did, it was because they were ordered or forced to.”
As of Wednesday, two Capitol police officers who responded to the attack have died. Brian Sicknick died of his injuries. Howard Liebengood died of apparent suicide; it was not clear whether his death was connected.