Former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund cited “extensive costs,” “extensive training,” and the lack of need up until the insurrection when asked why more officers weren’t outfitted with riot gear that would have given officers more protection and greater ability to fight back insurrectionists.
Sund gave the answer in response to questioning from Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio.
“It requires extensive costs, extensive training to keep and maintain that level for us. A number of our officers are posted in interior posts, screening posts, things like that, where that gear wouldn’t do them — you know, wouldn’t provide them any support,” Sund said.
“I would just say, obviously those officers who you say had interior posts needed it that day. So it’s not accurate to say that they didn’t need it,” Portman responded.
Sund told senators that the number of civil disturbance units in the US Capitol Police force – four groups of about 40 officers with full riot gear and another three groups of about 40 with lighter gear – had sufficed up until Jan. 6.
“I don’t know why you would have a civil disturbance unit platoon that didn’t have riot gear,” Portman said. “But you’ve just testified that that is true. That only four of them had it, is that correct?”
“That is correct,” Sund said.
By contrast, every DC Metropolitan Police Department officer is assigned a baton, a helmet, gloves and a gas mask and officers coming out of the training academy have some basic civil disturbance training, said Richard Contee, acting chief of police for the DC Metropolitan Police Department. Not every US Capitol Police officer has that gear.
Sund noted that he ordered helmets for his officers in September, though Covid-related manufacturing delays prevented them from arriving in time. The department distributed some helmets a couple days before the insurrection.