Capitol Police Push Back on Reports National Guard ‘Banished’ to Parking Garage

January 22, 2021 by Dan McCue
National Guard members take a break in a DC parking garage. (Photo via Twitter)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Capitol Police on Friday pushed back at multiple media reports that the agency had banished National Guard troops to nearby parking garages following the Biden inauguration.

According to Politico, thousands of National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol Thursday night, hours after Capitol Police officials ordered them to vacate the facility they’d been protecting since the deadly riot at the historic building on Jan. 6.

One unit, which had been spending its down time in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was “forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops,” the Politico report said, quoting an unidentified guardsman.

Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall.

The guardsman went on to say he and others in his unit “feel incredibly betrayed.”

But on Friday morning, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman released a statement that pushed back on that and similar reports that appeared in the New York Post and other newspapers across the nation.

“I want to assure everyone that, with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities,” Pittman said. “And on Inauguration Day, the guard was notified and encouraged to reoccupy the spaces in the Capitol and CVC at 2 p.m.

“Over the past several days, the U.S. Capitol Police has been working tirelessly with its Congressional stakeholders to identify appropriate accommodations across the entire Capitol complex for their use,” the statement continued, adding, “As of this morning, all guardsmen and women have been relocated to space within the Capitol Complex. 

“The Department is also working with the guard to reduce the need for sleeping accommodations by establishing shorter shifts, and will ensure they have access to the comfortable accommodations they absolutely deserve when the need arises,” Pittman said.

Despite those assurances, the treatment of the National Guard was roundly condemned in the halls of Congress Friday.

“It came to our attention last night that members of the National Guard, after standing on duty to protect the Capitol for Inauguration Day, keeping us safe, were sleeping in parking garages, in cramped quarters, without proper space or ventilation,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said on the floor of the Senate.

“It was utterly unacceptable. I have told those who run the security of the Capitol that it can never happen again. And I pledge to every National Guard member that it will not happen again.

“The minute I heard about this outrage last night, we made sure it was fixed immediately,” Schumer continued. “Every member of the guard was found proper accommodations inside and as of this morning, everyone was accounted for and taken care of. This morning, I went over to the CVC, and I spoke to a number of Guardsmen personally to make sure they were okay.

“I want to thank Senators Hassan, Duckworth, Kelly, and Heinrich for their work on this matter last night, as well as Senator Luján, who went around late at night to make sure things were okay as well. And I want to thank all the members who were concerned and lent a hand.

I also want to particularly thank Acting Sergeant at Arms Jennifer Hemingway, who—when we told her about this situation—patrolled the floors of the Capitol complex until past 3 a.m. to ensure that no one was left behind or not where they belonged. And she was back at her desk first thing today to follow up,” Schumer said.

On Friday afternoon, the Capitol Police and National Guard issued a joint statement reiterating that they are “united in the common goal to protect the U.S. Capitol and the Congress during this time. As with any large security operation, coordination and flexibility are required for all involved.

“The USCP and the National Guard have coordinated their efforts to ensure that National Guardsmen and women are stationed throughout the Capitol Complex are in appropriate spaces within Congressional buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, where they may take on-duty breaks. Off-duty troops are being housed in hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations,” the statement continued.

“The National Guard appreciates the continuous support of Congressional members who expressed concern for our National Guard men and women. The USCP is also grateful for the support of the Congress concerning the wellbeing of the women and men of the Department,” it said.

“The National Guard and the United States Capitol Police both have long histories of serving and protecting our country, and together, we continue in this proud tradition along with our other Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners,” the statement concluded.

The National Guard said Friday it is assisting states in returning troops safely to their homes.

Already, it said, it has reduced a peak of 26,000 troops to about 10,600.

In a written statement demobilization involves a lot of steps including equipment turn-in and accountability, travel arrangements, COVID screening and mitigation.

Troops will leave by ground transportation, airlift provided by the Air National Guard and contracted commercial air as necessary, the statement said.

The National Guard also noted that some agencies are requesting continuity of operations, additional support and recuperation time for their forces to regroup.

Approximately 7,000 National Guard personnel are anticipated to provide that assistance through the end of the month.

In The News

Health

Voting

Law Enforcement

Trump DOJ Seized Data from House Democrats in Leaks Probe
Justice
Trump DOJ Seized Data from House Democrats in Leaks Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department under former President Donald Trump seized data from the accounts of at least two members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2018 as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters,... Read More

Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Wife Pleads Guilty in D.C. Court
Crime
Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Wife Pleads Guilty in D.C. Court
June 11, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15 after pleading guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, pleaded guilty after assisting her... Read More

Sting: FBI-run Messaging App Tricks Organized Crime
Law Enforcement
Sting: FBI-run Messaging App Tricks Organized Crime

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Criminal gangs divulged plans for moving drug shipments and carrying out killings on a messaging app secretly run by the FBI, law enforcement agencies said Tuesday, as they unveiled a global sting operation they said dealt an "unprecedented blow" to organized... Read More

Justice Dept. Drops Subpoena Seeking USA Today Readers
Media
Justice Dept. Drops Subpoena Seeking USA Today Readers
June 7, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department late Friday withdrew its subpoena ordering media organization USA Today to turn over records identifying readers of a story about a Feb. 2 shootout in Florida that killed two FBI agents and injured three others. The FBI was trying to track... Read More

Congress and States Struggle With Police Immunity Reforms
Law Enforcement
Congress and States Struggle With Police Immunity Reforms
June 3, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A bill to modify the immunity from liability for police officers failed in the Louisiana State Legislature Tuesday over a dispute that mirrors similar action in Congress. The bill would have made officers liable to victims for their excessive use of force. Evidence during... Read More

Judge Set to Rule on Immunity For Police at Lafayette Square
Law Enforcement
Judge Set to Rule on Immunity For Police at Lafayette Square
June 2, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Washington, D.C. federal judge is expected to rule within days on whether lawsuits can go forward accusing police of violating protesters’ civil rights in the way they cleared Lafayette Square in front of the White House last year after the killing of George... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top