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U.S. Capitol Police Union To Hold No-Confidence Vote For Top Leaders

A member of the National Guard walks on Capitol Hill Tuesday, before the first day of former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.
Brendan Smialowski
AFP via Getty Images
A member of the National Guard walks on Capitol Hill Tuesday, before the first day of former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.

The board of the U.S. Capitol police union said it will move forward with plans to hold a no-confidence vote for the force's top leaders, including acting Chief Yogananda Pittman.

The vote will be held by week's end, a little more than a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection that left several people dead, including a Capitol police officer.

The Capitol's top three security officials, including the former police chief, Steven Sund, resigned in the days following the attack.

The union board said in a statement there was no alternative to the no-confidence motion, and systemic failures seen during the Capitol siege cannot be addressed without new leadership.

"The Board has taken this 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 on Tuesday.

The vote will target Pittman, Assistant Chief Chad Thomas, acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher and several deputy chiefs, the union said.

Among the concerns fueling the no-confidence vote, the union highlighted testimony given by Pittman in a closed-door meeting with the House Appropriations Committee last month. In that testimony, Pittman said the agency knew the Jan. 6 event would not be like previous protests in 2020, and it was clear that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would attend.

Pittman, who apologized in her testimony for her department's "failings" during the insurrection, also conceded it was clear that rally attendants planned to be armed with weapons, including firearms, and there was a strong potential for violence.

Following her testimony, union leadership said that the force's "entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable. Their inaction cost lives."

The no-confidence vote comes one week after the late Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries suffered during the attack, lay in honor at the Capitol before his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou also noted two deaths by suicide of two officers — one a Capitol police officer and another with the Metropolitan Police Department — following the events on Jan. 6.

In addition, with about 140 total officers sustaining injuries, some may never be able to return to duty, Papathanasiou noted.

He said "the board understands the gravity of the vote and it was not a decision taken lightly."

"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," Papathanasiou said. "The leadership has failed us, and we have paid a terrible price."

Papathanasiou said the agency does have leaders who are trusted and will work with the union to make the changes that are needed, but not those targeted by the no-confidence vote. And while the union has called for the vote, it has counseled members to vote their conscience.

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Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.