Capitol Security Review Recommends Sweeping Changes After Riot

Monday, March 8th 2021, 9:45 am
By: CBS News


House lawmakers on Monday will be briefed on a new security review that recommends widespread changes at the U.S. Capitol following the January 6 insurrection. The final report calls for the hiring of more than 1,000 Capitol Police officers, a dedicated quick reaction force and the installation of retractable fencing around the complex, according to a draft obtained by CBS News.

The study was led by former Hurricane Katrina Commander and retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore and a task force composed of other former senior military officials. 

The 15-page document seeks to streamline the chain of command after significant delays in deploying the National Guard during the riot. 

It proposes giving the U.S. Capitol Police authority to request support from the National Guard and outside law enforcement without preapproval from the Capitol Police Board in "extraordinary emergency circumstances". 

The board, which oversees the department, is made up of the House and Senate sergeants at arms, the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police chief. Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told lawmakers in a Senate hearing last month that he requested the National Guard two days before the riot but his request was denied by the House Sergeant at Arms. Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton testified at a separate hearing that he was never contacted about the request.

Another recommendation calls for Department of Defense directives to be amended to allow the head of the D.C. National Guard to retain emergency authority to quell large-scale civil disturbances. Commanding General William Walker told a joint Senate panel last week he had guardsmen sitting on buses while he waited for clearance from the Pentagon to deploy them to the Capitol on January 6.

"At that point, seconds mattered, minutes mattered, and I needed to be ready to get them there as quick as possible," Walker testified. 

The report also cites internal communication problems among Capitol Police rank-and-file who were on the ground during the attack.

"Without earpieces, many officers were also unable to hear or understand radio communications due to overwhelming noise from the crowd," the report states. "Every officer must be equipped with earpieces as part of his or her uniform and directed to wear them. This should not be optional."

The task force recommends officers wear body cameras and suggests increasing the K9 division and restoring the horse-mounted police unit. 

The group also proposes enhanced security for Congressional members when they travel to their home districts.

Asked by CBS News if she supports the findings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged supplemental funding will be required. 

"We will be presenting to the fuller body and at some point have decisions made about what is feasible," she said. "It's going to take more money to protect the Capitol in a way that enables people to come here." 

Pelosi commissioned the Honore review, which primarily focuses on security on the House side of the Capitol. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other House Republicans have criticized the selection of the retired general to lead the probe, citing his past statements suggesting Capitol Police officers were complicit in the insurrection.  

"While there may be some worthy recommendations forthcoming, General Honore's notorious partisan bias calls into question the rationality of appointing him to lead this important security review," McCarthy said in a statement. 

Honore and other members of the January 6 task force will brief members from both parties in three separate sessions Monday.