The chief said the drastically increased number of threats to Congress and the Capitol was one of the reasons more officers are needed. The number of threats rose from about 3,900 in 2017 to more than 9,600 last year, he said. The Capitol Police are opening field offices in Tampa and San Francisco to investigate the threats and provide protection for members of Congress.
Manger said the field offices would enhance the “prosecution of threats cases and other cases involving our mission here to protect the Capitol.”
The police force, currently authorized for about 2,000 officers, saw 136 officers leave the department last year for various reasons, and an additional 175 are on approved leave, the board’s report said. Manger said in a recent interview that the personnel shortages have contributed to ongoing morale problems with the rank and file, who have been required to work double shifts and cancel vacations to cover the security of the Capitol.
He said the Capitol Police typically hire 140 officers per year, though that process was hampered last year by the pandemic-related closure of the federal police training center. “Our intent is to hire 280 police officers for the next three years,” Manger said. “That will get us ahead of attrition, and my hope is that will get us to where we need to be in terms of staffing.”
The chief did not say whether Congress would need to increase the total authorization of the force, or its funding, and members of the Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), did not address it.
Gus Papathanasiou, head of the Fraternal Order of Police’s labor committee for the Capitol Police, said that “hiring 280 per year is realistic” but added that “even if we hire 280 a year, we will continue to lose officers to retirements and resignations, and it will realistically take a minimum of about five years or more to get to the levels where we should be.”
Manger also reiterated his plan to hire about 50 private security contractors to handle posts of lower security and priority, to clear time for sworn officers to take days off. He said he anticipated that might last two or three years. Papathanasiou said previously that the union was not convinced that the private contractors would be hired and that their hiring wouldn’t help the full-time officers.
Having taken over the chief’s job in July, Manger has acknowledged that there were intelligence failures last Jan. 6 and has taken multiple steps to address that. The Capitol Police have hired nine new intelligence analysts, centralized all intelligence gathering in one bureau and provided cellphones to all officers so they can receive daily briefings.
Manger is one of four members of the Capitol Police Board, along with Brett Blanton, who holds the position of architect of the Capitol; Karen Gibson, the Senate sergeant-at-arms; and William J. Walker, the House sergeant-at-arms. Their report said that the police have addressed more than 90 of 103 recommendations made by the department’s inspector general.
Inspector General Michael A. Bolton had testified to the same committee last month that only about 30 of his 104 recommendations had been implemented, but Manger said an additional 60 were in the process of being completed.
The police board report said the department has improved the training and equipping of its civil disturbance unit, including forming eight permanent platoons, and has improved its cooperation and communications with other agencies, including local police and the National Guard.