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J. Thomas Manger picked to be Capitol Police chief

Manger has led police departments in Montgomery County and Fairfax County

The Capitol Police flag flies in front of the department's headquarters on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.
The Capitol Police flag flies in front of the department's headquarters on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

J. Thomas Manger, who has led police departments in the Washington suburbs, will become the new Capitol Police chief as the agency grapples with how to operate months after the Jan. 6 insurrection, which exposed many failures within the department.

For 15 years, Manger led the police department in Montgomery County, Md., and before that served as chief in Fairfax County, Va. His selection by the Capitol Police Board comes after a national search that included internal candidates, including acting Chief Yogananda Pittman. The three-member Capitol Police Board has yet to announce the selection.

The Associated Press first reported Manger’s selection, and a person familiar confirmed the report to CQ Roll Call. Manger will lead more than 1,800 sworn officers who are charged with protecting the Capitol complex and those on the campus, including members of Congress, staff and visitors.

Waves of officers have been leaving the department since Jan. 6. Officers are tired and demoralized from what has been arguably the most arduous time in the department’s almost 200-year existence. More than 80 Capitol Police officers were injured as a result of the Capitol assault. Three officers have died since Jan. 6.

Earlier this year, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré led a review of Capitol security in which he found the department had 233 officer vacancies and that officers worked almost 720,000 overtime hours in fiscal 2020. Honoré recommended adding 854 positions. Meanwhile, Congress has been haggling over a supplemental spending package that would reimburse the department for overages incurred and to beef up security.

Leaders have been forced out, and the department’s ability to protect Congress has been called into question. Communication failures, a lack of preparation and intelligence misses on the part of department leaders, including by Pittman, all exposed deep deficiencies within the Capitol Police.

A scathing bipartisan Senate joint committee report released in June was highly critical of the department’s intelligence division, which, leading up to and at the time of the insurrection, was led by Pittman. The Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division was aware of the potential for violence in the days and weeks ahead of the pro-Donald Trump insurrection and obtained information from several sources about violent threats targeting Congress’ joint session to tabulate electoral votes.

Despite this knowledge, the intelligence division “failed to fully incorporate this information into all of its internal assessments about January 6 and the Joint Session. As a result, critical information regarding threats of violence was not shared with USCP’s own officers and other law enforcement partners,” according to the Senate report, prepared by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee.

In February, Pittman and six other top officials received votes of no confidence from the department’s union. Pittman received a 92 percent vote of no confidence.

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Editor’s Note: Congress and the coalition-curious