In the aftermath of last year's Jan. 6 riot, the U.S. Capitol Police force saw its workforce decline and its morale plummet, but its workload continued to increase. While the force has maintained its protective and patrol duties, the number of threats aimed at members of Congress or the Capitol itself rose again in 2021 to roughly 9,600, Chief Thomas Manger tells the Washington Post. The trajectory began with fewer than 4,000 threats in 2017 and increased to more than 8,600 in 2020. “Out of 18,000 police departments, the U.S. Capitol Police is unique,” said Manger, who took over in July after retiring as police chief in suburban Montgomery County, Md. “Nobody does what we do — protecting the Capitol of the United States and the members of Congress,” while also patrolling the campus, handling constant demonstrations and investigating threats, he said. He is having to do that policing with 130 fewer officers than in 2020.
Mass retirements and resignations followed the Jan. 6 attack, which included assaults on about 140 Capitol and Washington, D.C., police officers. Two Capitol Police officers also died after the riot, including one who took his own life three days later. A D.C. officer shot himself nine days after the attack. A force authorized for 2,000 sworn officers is down to 1,800, pushing Capitol Police commanders to cancel officers’ days off or planned leave, or make officers work double shifts. Manger is trying multiple moves to bulk up the force, including hiring private security contractors to staff some posts and doubling up on academy classes. He acknowledges that he remains understaffed, and morale remains a problem. Officers, he said, “couldn’t spend time with their family. They couldn’t make plans. That’s probably the biggest issue that we haven’t been able to really fix yet. ... Until we start getting them days off again and stop holding them over [for extra shifts], that morale issue remains.” Manger said he plans to hire 280 new officers in 2022.