The union that represents the police officers who secure the Capitol made an urgent appeal to Congress Saturday to ramp up security right away, saying they’re approaching “a crisis in morale and force numbers.”
This comes a day after an attack at the Capitol complex that claimed the life of Officer William “Billy” Evans, the second officer to die in the line of duty this year.
“The USCP has an authorized force level of 2072 officers,” Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, said in a statement. “Right now, we are 233 officers below that level. We are struggling to meet existing mission requirements even with the officers working massive amounts of forced overtime.”
On Saturday morning, more jersey barriers were added to the area off of Constitution Avenue, where suspect Noah Green allegedly rammed two officers, including Evans, and lunged at them with a knife before he was shot and killed.
Black bunting was draped across the entrance to the Capitol Police headquarters and flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force who has been remembered as a great athlete and father.
“He was so proud to be on that force and to serve and protect our lawmakers and our country,” Jason LaForest, a friend of Evans, said. “He had an infectious laugh and an infectious smile and he just enjoyed life. He was a terrific guy.”
Some placed flowers at the site of the deadly attack, just feet away from the Capitol building where members of Congress serve.
The union head said 80 Capitol Police officers were seriously injured during the insurrection on Jan. 6, and some may never return to duty. They’re supporting the hiring of hundreds of new officers and retraining those already on the force.
In the wake of the insurrection, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré led a task force to review U.S. Capitol security. Papathanasiou referenced Honoré's findings, saying the task force "called for the hiring of hundreds of additional officers and dozens of other operational, training, and physical infrastructure improvements. We support General Honoré recommendations and had the opportunity to meet with him and his team the day before Officer Evans was tragically killed. As I explained to him, these improvements are critical, but our first priority has to be retaining our existing officers. There are immediate steps Congress can take to address this. The question is, will Congress do so?”