Capitol Police Union President Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement Saturday that the Capitol Police are staffing 233 officers below their authorized level and could face further staff shortages as officers retire in the next years. Papathanasiou noted that the shortage is exacerbated by the continued injuries of several officers in the January 6 attack.
The department is reeling after losing several officers this year. Officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force and a member of its “First Aid Unit,” died after Friday’s attack, while the officer who was injured Friday was released from the hospital, according to a police officer. source.
Officer Brian Sicknick died after the January insurrection from injuries sustained during the incident and another officer died by suicide after responding to the riots.
“We are struggling to meet the requirements of the existing mission, even with officers working large amounts of forced overtime,” Papathanasiou said. “Many younger officers have confided to me that they are actively looking at other agencies and departments right now.”
Papathanasiou endorsed the recommendations of the task force led by retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, who called for an increase in Capitol Police personnel among several changes, and said in the task force report that the Capitol Police “lacked of personnel, was insufficiently equipped and was not adequately trained to secure the Capitol and the members “on January 6.
“We have to accept the fact that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Capitol is in danger for national and foreign criminals who want to attack the center of our leadership in the United States,” Honoré told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “after Friday’s attack.” The Capitol is a target. We have to adapt to that. “
Papathanasiou honored Evans in his statement, saying that he was “highly respected within the department and that his loss will not be forgotten.” He also praised the work of the officers who responded to the incident on Friday and continue to investigate the attack, adding: “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
“We appreciate and join the Union’s support to increase hiring, retain our current officers, and implement many of the recommended security improvements as quickly as possible,” said the US Capitol Police.
This story has been updated with the hospital release of the Capitol Police officer wounded in Friday’s attack and with a response from the Capitol Police to Saturday’s union statement.