Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s pick to lead a Capitol security investigation in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot is recommending that Congress step up measures to bring in more fencing and more officers and to establish a full-time task force to guard the historic building that will cost up to $130 million a year.
After conducting a six-week reportedly “nonpartisan” investigation, Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, who previously received backlash for hurling multiple partisan insults at congressional Republicans, even calling for some such as Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to “be run out of DC and Disbarred ASAP,” concluded in a report obtained by Fox News that the Capitol needs a “quick reaction force” that will always be on guard. The decision, the report states, follows the “understaffed, insufficiently equipped, and inadequately trained” police meant to protect the Capitol on Jan. 6 and comes even though National Guardsmen are scheduled to remain in Washington, D.C., for at least two more months.
BREAKING: Capitol Police ask that the National Guard remain at the U.S. Capitol for two more months, reflecting continued security concerns. https://t.co/SdYJE6W5gh
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 4, 2021
The “quick reaction force,” the 33-page report states, can consist of either “existing law enforcement entities,” instated under the D.C. National Guard or a rotation of Guardsmen from around the country, or be created as a group “that permanently resides within the DC Guard by reestablishing a military police battalion and staffing it with Active Guard Reserve troops who live in or near the city year-round, perpetually on active duty.”
In addition to a 24-hour reaction force, the report also recommends installing a “mobile fence option” around Capitol grounds that can be “easily erected and deconstructed.” Repairs to the building itself, the report notes, should also be made a priority to ensure “long-term improvements to perimeter fencing and security surveillance sensing systems.”
Other suggestions from Honoré’s report include allocating resources to U.S. Capitol Police to hire and train nearly 900 more officers to its force to fill 223 vacancies as well as equip them with earpieces, body cameras, a young and trained K-9 unit, and horses. The hiring spree, the report states, should also provide more flexibility to the Capitol Police after officers clocked more than 720,000 overtime hours in the 2020 fiscal year. Training for these officers, the report emphasizes, should include how to communicate, strategize, and discern intelligence.
“Internal communications were a problem during the attack in part because the USCP failed to use ‘talk groups’ on the radio, which would have allowed leaders to bypass the constant, high-volume tactical chatter to communicate without the interruption of other radio traffic,” the report notes.
The Capitol Hill police chief, Honoré noted, should also be granted more authority to make decisions during a crisis.
“The CPB’s deliberate decision-making process proved too slow and cumbersome to respond to the crisis in January, delaying requests for critical supplemental resources,” the report states. “Specifically, the USCP Chief should not require CPB approval to request assistance from external agencies or the National Guard in an emergency.”
Lastly, the report suggests Capitol Police implement new screening procedures and background checks of people entering the building.
“Requiring background checks for identification cardholders and employing card readers more widely throughout the complex would decrease insider threat risks,” the report states.
The task force also recommends Capitol Police take into account the risks to lawmakers’ offices on Capitol grounds as well as promote “residential security systems for all members of Congress.”