Capitol Police acting chief sends letter to rank-and-file before union's no-confidence vote against top brass
Written by kslmadmin on February 11, 2021
The planned vote of no confidence is against multiple department officials, including Pittman, who became acting chief two days after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Her memo, dated Feb. 9 and titled “We’re in This Together,” was meant to be read at roll calls and posted on all bulletin boards before the vote.
“Though the vote does not compel any specific action, it does speak to the sentiment and concerns of some of our offices that I am working to address,” Pittman said in her memo, obtained by Fox News Wednesday. “I understand the anger and frustration officers are experiencing. Two of our own died any many others were maimed, injured and subjected to inexcusable violence by a riotous mob.”
The cause of death for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick remains under investigation, though U.S. Capitol Police have said he collapsed at his office the night of Jan. 6 after “physically engaging” with crowds at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the day and died from his injuries at the hospital on Jan. 7.
It’s unclear whether he died from injuries sustained after being struck in the head by a fire extinguisher, as some law enforcement sources initially alleged, or if he suffered medical complications after being exposed to a chemical irritant, such as bear mace. The autopsy results have not been released over a month later.
His cremated remains lied in honor at the Capitol Rotunda last week, as lawmakers paid him tribute.
The second Capitol Police officer referenced is Howard Liebengood, who later died by suicide.
“Since January 6, every member of my command staff and I have spent time talking to officers from every Division, both in groups and one-on-one,” Pittman continued in the internal memo. “I have met and grieved with the families and loved ones of our fallen. It has been heartbreaking.
“The events of that day took a toll on all of us and requires that we work together. I recognize the tremendous effort you all have made in fighting on the front lines,” she wrote. “Like you, I have spent many years as a CDU officer and served as a CDU commander. I know firsthand it is not an easy job. We all know how difficult the fight and sacrifice can be on ourselves and our love ones. During these difficult times, it is important we remember that we are family, too. We are stronger united versus divided.”
Since her appointment as acting chief on Jan. 8, Pittman said she, “took quick action to improve intelligence and operational communications with all officers, protect them against known doxing attempts, as well as ensure counseling and wellness support services are available not only to our employees, but to their family members as well.”
“As we move forward together, I promise to continue to work diligently to see to it that what happened on January 6 will never happen again, and that our officers have the tools and resources they need – personally and professionally,” Pittman promised her rank-and-file officers. “I know much work still remains, but we are moving swiftly to help each other heal and to build upon our collective success. Thank you for your service and please know that every one of you is appreciated.”
Several investigations are underway to determine why agencies left law enforcement undermanned and unequipped despite weeks of warnings of violence from far-right and White supremacist groups. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned the day after the riots.
In addition to Pittman, Assistant Chief Chad Thomas, acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher, and Deputy Chiefs Timothy Bowen, Jeffrey Pickett and Eric Waldow also face a no-confidence vote Thursday.
The Capitol Police Labor Committee’s executive board called for the no-confidence vote this week, taking an “unprecedented step after reviewing senior leadership’s handling of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol that led to six deaths, and to injuries of approximately 140 Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers,” the union said in a statement Tuesday.
The union has pointed to Pittman’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on Jan. 26, when she admitted that the department “should have been more prepared” for the attack given advance intelligence indicated militia and White supremacist groups would be attending events in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and that some participants intended to bring firearms and other weapons.
“The enormity of the multiple leadership failures both in leading up to the insurrection, and in the Department’s response to it, have convinced us there is no other choice,” the police union’s Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said Tuesday. “The leadership has failed us, and we have paid a terrible price.”
Papathanasiou previously argued that officers who responded to the Capitol on Jan. 6, some of whom were not issued helmets, suffered brain injuries, cracked ribs and smashed spinal disks. He said one officer was going to lose an eye from his injuries and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report, as well as the Associated Press.
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