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Capitol Police Call for More Security, Prompting Debate Over How Far to Go


Chief Pittman, who took over the department on Jan. 8 after her predecessor resigned, had directed her staff to assess the Capitol complex security upon assuming the post. She noted that experts had argued for greater security measures for the Capitol even before the Sept. 11 attacks. Additionally, a security assessment in 2006 recommended a permanent fence.

“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, backup forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” she said in a statement.

The District of Columbia is under the jurisdiction of a constellation of law enforcement agencies: the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service, among others. Poor planning and communication among various law enforcement agencies — federal, state and local — contributed to the failures on display.

In the aftermath, the reviews of the failures have been just as disjointed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead a review of security at the Capitol Complex. The Capitol Police inspector general also has an additional review, Chief Pittman said, and the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police has offered to Congress an assessment of the Capitol riot from his department and the District of Columbia’s government.

Even while the fence remains on Capitol grounds, new threats have emerged. On Thursday, officers stopped a man trying to gain access at a security checkpoint near the Capitol, according to the Capitol Police.

The officers told the man, later identified by the Metropolitan Police Department as Donald Barr, 51, of Macomb Township, Mich., that he could not enter, but he tried to bypass them. He then “actively resisted arrest,” the Capitol Police said in a statement. He has been charged with felony destruction of property and two counts of assaulting a police officer, among other charges.

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