Ex-Capitol Police chief warns agency still ‘not in a better place’ two years after Jan. 6 failures: book

Former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund writes in a forthcoming book that issues remain at the agency two years after “a failure” in its upper ranks left it unprepared for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

“Almost two years after the events of Jan. 6, the department is not in a better place or on a readier footing,” Sund wrote in his book “Courage Under Fire,” according to The Washington Post, which obtained a copy in advance of its Tuesday publication.

“Few people in the department feel there is a viable plan to move the agency into a better position. Hundreds of officers have left the department since Jan. 6 and many feel it is only going to get worse.”

Sund said in the book that despite the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Capitol Police’s intelligence unit being alerted to indications that right-wing extremists were arming for an attack on the Capitol weeks before Jan. 6, the agencies failed to take even basic steps to act on those warnings, according to the Post. He also said senior military leaders delayed sending help due to political and tactical concerns.

“The security and information-sharing policies and mandates put in place after September 11 failed miserably on January 6,” Sund wrote. “We failed miserably to see the apparent warning signs and the danger, like a ‘gray rhino,’ charging right at us.”

Sund said he wasn’t warned about the red flags the agencies had received, which included calls for protesters to come armed, attack Capitol tunnels and be willing to shoot officers, per the Post.

While applauding Capitol Police officers who responded to the attack, he said that leaders in his department had failed.

“Many of our Capitol Police just acted so bravely and with such concern for the staff, the members, for the Capitol … and they deserve our gratitude. But there was a failure at the top of the Capitol Police,” he said, adding that the “biggest intelligence failure was within my department.”

He also wrote that he learned following the attack that the sergeants-at-arms hired by Senate and House leaders declined a request he made days before Jan. 6 that the National Guard by put on standby because they thought House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wouldn’t permit it, according to the Post.

He said flaws in the power structure at the agency, such as congressional leaders’ political concerns overruling the chief’s security assessments, remain, per the outlet.

Sund warned that the department’s command structure, which he wrote had serious consequences on Jan. 6, is “a recipe for disaster.”

He recommended a fundamental change in the power structure under which congressional leaders would let future Capitol Police chiefs carry out their own security plans alone, rather than having to report to the Capitol Police Board, according to the Post.

“The security apparatus that exists on Capitol Hill creates a no-win situation for whoever is chief. You have the Capitol Police Board, four oversight committees, and 535 bosses plus their staffs telling you what to do,” Sund wrote.

Sund stepped down the day after the insurrection following Pelosi’s public call for his resignation.

“No one holds themselves more accountable than I do” for the officers’ experiences that day, Sund wrote, “and I wish I could have done more.”

But Sund wrote he also regrets resigning before he saw the full picture about the intelligence he never received, which he said would have prompted him to develop a different security plan, according to the Post.

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