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Survey Finds Capitol Police Felt Unprepared For Jan. 6 Attack

The U.S. Capitol Police should better train officers to deal with the kind of large violent crowds that attacked Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, when the agency’s response was hampered by poor information-sharing and officers’ hesitancy to use force, says the Government Accountability Office. GAO, based on a survey of Capitol Police officers, recommends more crowd control training, noting that many officers said there was a hesitancy to use force or make arrests during the melee, the Washington Post reports. Most of the officers who answered the GAO’s questions reported that there should have been more guidance and intelligence shared with officers ahead of time, with more than 200 of the 315 officers surveyed saying police brass offered insufficient instructions before and during the attack. More than half of the officers said intelligence, information and guidance had not been shared with them adequately or at all. One noted that if officers “had any information on the morning of the 6th aside from ‘Prepare for a long day’ they would have had a different mindset when the group approached.” The violence occurred after thousands of Trump supporters marched there to protest as lawmakers formally tallied the electoral vote count that sealed Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. More than a thousand people in the crowd overpowered police officers and rushed into the building. Five people died during the attack or in the immediate aftermath, and more than 100 police officers were injured. GAO noted that Capitol Police training for violent protests typically envisions a small handful of physically threatening individuals, not a mob. The oversight agency found many officers expressed a reluctance to use force in confrontations, out of concern that senior managers are likely to punish officers who do so. After the riot, senior police officials tried to clarify the agency’s use-of-force policies. The GAO said officers reported that “misconceptions related to use of force have been persistent both before and after the attack.”

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