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Capitol Police 'Left Naked' Despite Warnings

Police leaders stuck to the status quo in the face of threats
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2021 5:20 PM CST
Capitol Police 'left naked' Against Pro-Trump Mob
Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(Newser) – Despite ample warnings about pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, US Capitol Police did not bolster staffing on Wednesday and made no preparations for the possibility that the planned protests could escalate into massive violent riots, according to several people briefed on law enforcement's response. The revelations shed new light on why Capitol police were so quickly overrun. The department had the same number of officers in place as on a routine day. Once the mob began to move on the Capitol, a police lieutenant issued an order not to use deadly force. Officers are sometimes ordered against escalating a situation by drawing weapons if superiors believe doing so could lead to a stampede or a shootout. In this instance, it also left officers will little ability to resist the mob. “They were left naked,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Ca., said of police officers in an interview with the AP.

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The crowd that arrived in Washington on Wednesday was no surprise. Police leaders, however, had prepared for a free speech demonstration. No fencing was erected outside the Capitol and no contingency plans were prepared, according to people briefed. Those decisions left the officers policing the Capitol like sitting ducks, the officials said, with little guidance and no cohesive plan on how to deal with the flood of rioters streaming into the building. The rioters had more equipment and they weren’t afraid to use it, said Ashan Benedict of the ATF. “They had apparently more bear spray and pepper spray and chemical munitions than we did,” he said. “We’re coming up with plans to counteract their chemical munitions with some of our own less-than-lethal devices, so these conversations are going on as this chaos is unfolding in front of my eyes.”

(Read more insurrection stories.)

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