Report details mismanagement of police emergency system on January 6
WASHINGTON (AP) – Police at the United States Capitol did not respond adequately to officers’ frantic calls for help when they pressed panic buttons on their radios in search of support immediate as dozens of pro-Trump rioters beat officers with bats, poles and other weapons, an inspector general’s report found.
The report obtained by The Associated Press offered new details about the law enforcement shortcomings during the Jan.6 uprising on Capitol Hill.
The report found that most emergency officer radio activations were never broadcast simultaneously on police radio, a standard protocol designed to get the word out to other officers about emergencies and crises. The duty watch commander does not appear to have been made aware of at least some of the system activations, according to the report.
Washington police officials are increasingly concerned about a rally scheduled for Sept. 18 on federal land next to the Capitol that organizers say aims to demand “justice” for the hundreds of people already indicted in connection. of the January uprising.
“Without the ability to connect with help or call for backup in an emergency, officers risk facing dangerous or even fatal situations,” the report said. “Without being aware of an agent’s emergency, the Department does not send additional units or resources to an agent in distress. And if the running Watch Commander is not notified of emergency ID activations, it cannot respond to a situation. “
Capitol Police said senior officials in the department used their cell phones on Jan.6 to communicate orders to others down the chain of command to limit the number of radio transmissions being broadcast.
The findings on the emergency radio system are included in a “flash report” by the Inspector General of the Capitol Police, the fifth in a series of ongoing assessments of how the agency failed in its operation. management of January 6 and how it can do better in the future. It follows earlier reports that focused on the agency’s handling of intelligence and threat assessments and which, taken together, showed a pattern of imperfect preparedness and response to the violence of that day.
The July report focuses on the gaps within the Capitol Police Command and Coordination Office, which, among other responsibilities, prepares special events and manages the emergency response at the Capitol Complex. The Inspector General detailed what he said were outdated and vague policies and procedures as well as preparedness issues. coordination and contingency planning.
Capitol Police said in a statement that its policies and procedures were being updated and that “a comprehensive training plan was being developed.”
“The USCP acknowledged that there were gaps in communications on January 6. Considering the events of January 6, the sheer volume of radio traffic that day was not surprising. In addition, the size and scale of January 6 made it difficult to respond to each officer’s emergency radio broadcast in real time, ”the statement said.
A complication for the police department was the volume of emergency calls, so the police could not reach them all at the same time.
A law enforcement official said that because so many officers were pressing their panic buttons, other officers could not answer all calls at the same time and had to prioritize their emergency responses. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss the report as it has not been made public.
The report criticizes the way the ministry handled the emergency activation system that officers use to call for help during crises.
Of the 36 emergency system activations that day, the Inspector General located only 13 in the radio traffic transcripts. While there may be additional activations, they were not reflected in the transcripts and “it is clear that not all of them were released simultaneously,” according to the report.
Further, according to the report, command center officials did not always ensure that the duty shift commander was even aware of system activations.
The results are a noticeable departure from how the system is supposed to work. The surveillance report cites a standard protocol showing that when an agent activates the radio emergency system, the agent’s name and personal identification number appear on the dispatch console and the dispatcher is then required to broadcast simultaneously. on all newsgroups that an emergency is in progress and to place units on hold.
Failure to respond appropriately to emergency system activations, the report said, “may put officers at increased risk.”
Capitol Police said they are working to improve communication during critical incidents and are deploying “new and improved policies, practices and procedures” to monitor emergency signals and communication with other agencies law enforcement officials. The force also brought in a retired Secret Service agent to help plan major events.
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