‘Can’t wait for Jesus to come fix this’: New Capitol attack reveals ongoing security gaps, depleted police force
By most accounts law enforcement’s reaction to Friday’s vehicle attack at the Capitol was swift.
Within minutes of the first reports of gunfire, local and federal officers swarmed to the scene.
A U.S. Park Police helicopter, in a dramatic show of force, hovered over the Capitol’s north side.
Yet, when the latest assault was ultimately repelled, leaving one officer and a 25-year-old suspect dead, the familiar and increasingly glaring questions about the readiness of a traumatized U.S. Capitol Police force remained.
A laundry list of needs, laid bare in a recent review of the department following the Jan. 6 attack – in which a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, killing USCP Officer Brian Sicknick and injuring nearly 140 other officers – was highlighted by a call to fill more than 200 vacant positions within a wheezing force in need of hundreds more, along with a revamped training program and intelligence gathering system.
While a search continues for a permanent leader for the force, Congress has yet to act on the sweeping security recommendations delivered last month by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore who said that some lawmakers were not moving with the necessary urgency to bolster the Capitol’s defenses, declaring that the seat of American democracy remained a vulnerable target.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Lt. Gen. Russell Honore march during a jazz funeral procession dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, on Aug. 29, 2006, in New Orleans. (Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images)
“They (lawmakers) have got to recognize that the Capitol is not just a target sometimes; it’s a target all the time,” Honore told USA TODAY Saturday. “The Capitol is a target because it is the center of power in this country, and it needs to be protected like the gold in Fort Knox.
“That is the message we’ve got to get to lawmakers. We can’t wait for Jesus to come fix this,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tasked Honore to lead the security review. But lawmakers continue to debate recommended upgrades as they balance increased security against the interests in keeping the Capitol campus open and accessible to the public.
The 15-page report recommended hiring 854 more Capitol police officers for the force of about 2,000 to reduce staggering overtime costs while bolstering the agency’s intelligence analysis functions. It also stressed the need for training for future demonstrations.
Read: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré’s full security recommendations for the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot
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