- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2021

U.S. Capitol Police officers were ordered not to fire crowd-dispersing sting ball grenades when rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, which could have prevented them breaching the building, the agency’s inspector general told lawmakers on Thursday.

“It would be difficult to say it definitely would have turned the tide,” said Capitol Police Inspector General Michael A. Bolton. “But it definitely would have given them a better chance.”

The call to not fire the grenades, which scatter painful rubber balls upon impact, was made by an assistant Capitol Police deputy chief, he said.

It was among broad failures in protecting the Capitol that day, according to Mr. Bolton, who called for a “cultural change” among the Capitol Police Department.

The grenades were not used “out of the belief that they could potentially cause life-altering injuries and/or death if they were misused in any way,” Mr. Bolton said.

That a police supervisor was unsure that officers could use their weapons properly raises questions about the training they receive. Mr. Bolton recommended the creation of a specially trained unit to respond to riots and other incidents of violence.

Officers would have been justified to fire the non-lethal grenades, he said.

“Look at the video, they were extremely violent,” he told the House Administration Committee, which has oversight of the Capitol Police.

The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, called the decision to not use all the weapons at the officers’ disposal “troubling.”

Ms. Lofgren, California Democrat, said the force’s leadership left officers shockingly ill-equipped to handle the attack.

Mr. Bolton, a former Secret Service agent, is leading an investigation into the preparedness of the Capitol Police for the assault. His report is expected to making dozens of recommendations on how the force could be better prepared. His office has released only summaries of the findings.

Ms. Lofgren revealed some of the inadequacies the report revealed about Capitol Police equipment and training:

  • Defective riot shields shattered upon impact.
  • More shields were kept nearby in a bus, but the bus was locked and officers couldn’t access the shields, leaving the officers unprotected.
  • Capitol Police didn’t store tear gas inside the Capitol and later sent unarmed civilians to fetch tear gas from the police arsenal, but they were blocked by protesters.
  • Some tear gas canisters in the arsenal were long past their expiration date.

Mr. Bolton said was that Capitol Police leaders also did not share intelligence about the potential for violence with those on the front lines because the officers did not have the proper security clearance.

That needs to change, he said.

His report that Capitol Police leaders knew of the threat contradicted the testimony of former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and other officials who said they were unaware of the threat.

Ms. Lofgren said the “initial findings differ significantly from the prior versions of events offered by Department officials, including in congressional testimony, and detail what he believes to be several critical shortcomings of the department and its leadership.”

Rep. G. K. Butterfield, North Carolina Democrat, blasted the police force’s leaders.

“High-ranking leadership in the Capitol Police had the intelligence,” Mr. Butterfield said. “That is absolutely clear. They knew it. They knew it was going to happen. They failed to act on the intelligence.”

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