Capitol Police 'Felt Discouraged or Hesitant to Use Force' During January 6 Riot, Report Says

View of capitol behind barbed wireView of capitol behind barbed wire
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A survey of 315 Capitol Police showed a need for better crowd-control training.

Law enforcement said they “felt discouraged or hesitant to use force” during the Jan. 6 insurrection, per a survey of 315 Capitol Police officers.

Almost 14 months after the mob stormed the Capitol in response to the results of the 2020 presidential election, a 115-page report was issued by the Government Accountability Office.

Around a quarter of those included in the survey were "discouraged or hesitant to use force because of a fear of disciplinary actions,” according to the report. 

Several reported a lack of feeling empowered to make decisions on using force without approval by supervisors, sharing that "optics were affecting security decisions."

Concerns around information sharing were plenty within the group surveyed, with 190 respondents expressing concerns or sharing suggestions, according to the report. One participant said, "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."

Over half of the officers reported that information and guidance both before and after the attack were inadequate, reporting that it was either "not at all clear" or "not provided."

Approximately 150 of the officers surveyed recalled 293 incidents during the attack where force was used. According to the report, open-hand pushing was the most utilized technique, followed by batons, and then withdrawing a firearm from its holster, with 17 cases including officers pointing a firearm at an individual. However, only one officer opened fire, according to CBS News.

"The events of January 6, 2021 raised important questions about whether the Capitol Police is adequately prepared to respond effectively and efficiently in the current threat environment," the report concluded. 

It stated that while the investigations found the Capitol Police have taken "some positive first steps," the agency "needs to better understand and address potential officer hesitancy to use force, concerns with the department, and morale."

More than half of the officers reported the necessity of more instruction for the incident, with dozens of officers requesting more courses on "very large or violent crowd control" as well as "more realistic training."

In addition to guidance in the field, this report strongly suggesting the need for Capitol Police to offer additional training to aid authorities in crowd control. 

U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that the department "agree[s] with the recommendations, which we have already addressed," according to CBS News.

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