What were police in DC thinking? Apparently Chief Steven Sund was thinking the group coming to Washington was just there for a peaceful free speech rally. He told the AP, “Today Chief Sund announced he would resign over his failure to protect the Capitol:
Sund’s resignation will go into effect on Jan. 16, just a few days shy of President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, a police spokeswoman said Thursday. The announcement comes shortly after the head of the department’s union called for a “change at the top.”
Officers are “frustrated and demoralized” with how a lack of leadership undermined the response to the mob, according to a statement from Gus Papathanasiou, the union chairman. Papathanasiou laid the blame on a failure and planning while praising officers for their work.
“We prioritized lives over property, leading people to safety,” the statement said. “Not one Member of Congress or their staff was injured. Our officers did their jobs. Our leadership did not. Our Law Enforcement partners that assisted us were remarkable.”
That’s the right call with a failure this big, but his won’t be the only head to roll over this. The seargant-at-arms for the House and the one in the Senate are also on their way out:
By the day after the rampage, the House sergeant-at-arms, the chief security officer for the House of Representatives, had resigned and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had called for the resignation of the Capitol Police chief.
“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” Pelosi said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the incoming majority leader, said he will fire the Senate sergeant-at-arms.
It’s funny to hear Nancy Pelosi talking about failures of leadership but in this case she’s right. The failure of the DC Police may be the most conspicuous because Chief Sund not only didn’t plan appropriately, he also turned down help when it was offered in advance:
Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents. The police turned them down both times, according to senior defense officials and two people familiar with the matter.
Even if you put the initial refusal of help down to a lack of imagination, why turn down help from the FBI when the mob was outside the Capitol? It doesn’t make any sense to me. The AP suggests one possible explanation: DC Police were hoping to avoid a confrontation with civilians that would remind people of previous ones this summer:
Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans.
In other words, the cops took a lot of heat for using gas to clear out protesters months ago and didn’t want to invite a second round of criticism. And let’s face it, there would have been criticism if they had started gassing Trump’s rallygoers, not from the media which would have been fine with gassing Trump supporters as opposed to left-wing protesters but from the crowd and possibly even the president.
But that still would have been a lot better than what actually happened yesterday. As I mentioned earlier, there were several deaths and dozens of police officers injured in this riot. It should have been stopped outside the Capitol and the failure to do so created a disaster that was entirely avoidable.
Finally, there’s one more wrinkle to this story. Gov. Hogan in Maryland received a call from Democratic House leaders who wanted him to send in the National Guard but he was repeatedly told that was not authorized:
“I was actually on the phone with Leader Hoyer who was pleading with us to send the guard,” Hogan said. “He was yelling across the room to Schumer and they were back and forth saying we do have the authorization and I’m saying, ‘I’m telling you we do not have the authorization.’ ”
Hogan said Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, was repeatedly rebuffed by the head of the National Guard at the federal level.
Gowen “kept running it up the flagpole, and we don’t have authorization,” Hogan said. “We don’t have authorization.”
Gov. Hogan said that 90-minutes later he got a call from the Sec. of the Army asking him to send in the Guard. So plenty of help did arrive at the Capitol eventually it just came too late.