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U.S. Capitol Police Failed to Properly Prepare for Riot on January 6, Documents Show

The Capitol Police placed its focus on anti-Trump counterprotesters instead of Trump supporters.

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Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

A troubling finding has surfaced about some of what transpired during the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, according to a new report by Politico. On January 5, a day before the riot, a U.S. Capitol Police memo asked officers to be ready if an attack occurred, but parts of their planning were misguided.

In preparation for the march, the Capitol Police constructed “The Civil Disturbance Unit Operational Plan.” According to Politico, Capitol police placed a focus on the possible threat of counter-protesters and failed to properly control the aggressive acts of Donald Trump’s advocates. Police also decided to have officers in plainclothes to survey the area in order to keep protesters in check, which did not affect much.

What ensued was a tragedy. One officer died as an after-effect of the riot, others were hurt, and several officers have since committed suicide, Politico reports.

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Here are some specifics of the 17-page plan for the possible threat of riots on the Capitol, according to a Politico investigation:

The document opens with what now seems like a deeply misguided threat analysis: “At this time there are no specific known threats related to the Joint Session of Congress Electoral College Vote Certification,” it reads.

POLITICO reviewed “The Civil Disturbance Unit Operational Plan,” a 17-page strategy document for police on the day of the Electoral College certification. It sheds new light on how Capitol Police geared up for the protests, detailing the force’s concerns about counterprotesters, which turned out to be unwarranted. And it shows that in some ways, the department was prescient about the violence that would unfold but didn’t deploy enough defenses to counter the riots.

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The U.S. Capitol Police were also mildly understaffed on the day of the riot, CNN reports.

“Out of the Department’s approximately 1800 sworn employees, nearly 1460 were on site and working on January 6,” Capitol Police told CNN. “While the Department restricted leave for this event, it did not cancel leave for sworn employees who had submitted leave requests that were approved months in advance of January 6.”

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According to the Politico report, the riot caused U.S. Capitol Police to reevaluate the way they handle intelligence, as well as updating methods in planning events. The Department also prioritized the purchase of more equipment to help improve safety.

“The history of police infiltration is one of the government disproportionately targeting progressive activists and movements — sometimes even going so far as to gin up violence as justification for scrutiny — rather than keeping protesters safe,” Sahil Singhvi wrote in the Brennan Center for Justice, Politico reports.