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Threats to lawmakers up 93% in 2021, Capitol Police chief says

Police on Capitol Hill (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 03, 2021

Threats to lawmakers in Congress have increased significantly in 2021, nearly doubling the figures from the same period last year, according to the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police this week.

During a hearing Wednesday hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative branch, Chief Yogananda Pittman said threats against members of Congress increased “over 93 percent” in January and February 2021 compared to the same time in 2020, and increased 118% from 2017 to 2020.

Pittman also said that the protest on the Capitol in early January demonstrated “the level of existential threats to the U.S. Capitol and grounds are increasing as well.”

Building on Pittman’s claims, House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett warned lawmakers on Tuesday that security would be increased on March 4 due to conspiracy theories claiming Thursday is the “true inauguration day.”

Also on Tuesday, the Capitol Police posted a statement on Twitter acknowledging concerns linked to March 4.

“The department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4 and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners,” the statement read. “Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4.”

It continued, “The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce.”

In order to meet increased security needs on Capitol Hill, Pittman will request a $619.22 million budget for fiscal year 2022, which will also cover salaries and general expenses. The figure is a 21 percent jump from the current fiscal year, according to Bloomberg.

During the hearing, Pittman plans to address the “lessons learned” from the security and intelligence failures in the days before the January 6 protest. The top cop’s proposed budget includes requests for “emerging technologies” for communication and “new officer safety equipment” to improve security in the face of the evolving threats.   

Pittman will also pledge to work alongside the Architect of the Capitol “to produce recommendations for the physical hardening of the Capitol Complex,” in addition to organizing a standby force of 80 officers to be available at all times.

“This will require a significant investment in the necessary training, tools, and information gathering resources needed to meet the dynamic and ever-changing security challenges, including the rising threat of domestic terrorism,” she says in her written testimony.