Honore: More Capitol Police Officers Needed for Short-Staffed Department

Honore: More Capitol Police Officers Needed for Short-Staffed Department russel honore speaks at ceremony Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Marietta National Cemetery on Monday, May 31, 2010 in Marietta, Ga. (Erik S. Lesser/AP Photo)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 06 April 2021 12:24 PM

Several further steps are needed to protect the U.S. Capitol from further violence such as what occurred on Jan. 6, including increased numbers of Capitol Police officers to a department that is already short-staffed because of the COVID pandemic, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, appointed to lead the review of the Capitol's security, said Tuesday.

"Last year the Capitol Police did not get to conduct the class of officers through the academy because of COVID. It just couldn't be done," said Honore on CNN's "New Day," explaining that the force is now 233 officers short of its 1,800 authorized personnel.

The review task force has recommended adding 800 more officers, with "almost 200 plus" of those being for the protection of dignitaries with the rest going into intelligence, as well as others who will be additional line officers.

"The line officers' numbers we speak of are to address the 720,000 hours of overtime that the Capitol Police consumed last year," said Honore. "Much of that is attributed to the civil disturbances that happened in Washington last year, but this has been going on for over a decade, the extensive use of overtime."

Much of the overtime has occurred because the department does not have enough staff, he added, so their numbers must be increased.

Even without additional officers, the Capitol Police does have sufficient force to adequately protect lawmakers through reorganizations that have been done within the department itself.

Several hundred National Guard members are also on hand, as they were after the 9/11 attacks, said Honore, when 250 troops were put at the Capitol for two years.

"It is protected," said Honore. "It is safe and officers are doing their job."

However, there are "different fixes" between what is needed for an event such as what happened on Jan. 6 and last week's attack, when a lone driver crashed into a barricade near the Capitol, killing one police officer and injuring another.

"Every time we use one tactic the aggressor or the opposition come up with a new challenge to that, they will be looking at that," said Honore. "In the meantime, the Capitol Police are protecting the Capitol as they prepare to bury another one of their brothers, Officer (William) Evans. So this is a tough time. But they'll get through it."

Meanwhile, even given the review, Honore said he does believe lawmakers are safe at the Capitol, but that does come with a "lot of great sacrifice" for members of the Capitol Police.

"A lot of these officers have been working 12, 15 hours a day going on a year now. With all the things that happened last summer through Jan. 6, they went from 12-hour days some to 15-hour days some six, seven days a week. That's a lot of stress. That's a lot of time at work. And it has stressed the force."

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