WASHINGTON — After an unprecedented vote of no confidence in the seven leaders of the U.S. Capitol Police, the chairman of the department’s union said lower-level members of the force should be elevated to chart a new course for the USCP.
“There are existing leaders in this department who are up to the task,” Gus Papathanasiou, head of the Capitol Police union, said. “Leaders who understand the mission and are interested in doing their job and not just keeping their job.”
Papathanasiou, a 19-year veteran of the force, said the department’s current leadership represents a continuation of past chapters of failed policies. Future leaders prepared to step in, “exist just not at the acting chief, assistant chief, or deputy chief levels,” Papathanasiou said.
The union, at this point, has not put forward names of individuals seeking potential elevation to roles challenged in the seven separate no confidence votes.
In results released Monday night, 92% of voting officers expressed no confidence in acting USCP police Chief Yogananda D. Pittman. More than 90% of voting officers similarly conveyed no confidence in Assistant Chief Chad B. Thomas, Deputy Chief Jeffrey Pickett, and Captain Ben Smith.
Fewer than half the eligible rank-and-file officers took part in the vote. A person familiar with the total said 657 out of about 1,530 officers cast votes, a figure first reported by the Washington Post.
Papathanasiou said the officers who voted constituted a majority of the union’s bargaining unit.
None of the agency’s top brass signaled a willingness or intent to step down.
“Since being sworn in on Jan. 8, my executive team and I have made the well-being of our officers our top priority,” Pittman said. “While progress has been made, more work remains. And I am committed to ensuring every officer gets what they need and deserve.”
Pittman revealed Tuesday she is exploring ways to send future Capitol emergency alerts to members of the public through the District’s Alert D.C. text notification system.
The request was made in a phone call Friday by D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who asked for new ways to keep residents informed of future emergencies.
“Since these alerts are already sent to Capitol employees, it should not be a great effort to send them to affected D.C. residents,” Norton (D) said. “I look forward to working with [Pittman] further on this issue.”
Attention will turn to the U.S. Senate next week, with the first public testimony from law enforcement officials tasked with securing the Capitol on January 6.
Steven Sund, the former USCP chief who resigned after the attack, is invited to appear before a joint session of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs and Rules Committees on Tuesday, February 23 at 10:00 a.m.
Also invited are Michael Stenger, former Senate Sergeant at Arms, and Paul D. Irving, the former House Sergeant at Arms. Both also resigned after the insurrection.
The proceeding will be livestreamed on the committee’s websites.
Senators also invited Metropolitan Police acting Chief Robert Contee to testify at Tuesday’s hearing. None of the invitations have been declined.