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Capitol Police IG closed out Jan. 6 recommendations that weren’t fully executed

Russo disagreed with predecessor on moving specialized tactical team

Ron Russo, the United States Capitol Police Inspector General, testifies during the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on Wednesday.
Ron Russo, the United States Capitol Police Inspector General, testifies during the House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police Inspector General Ron Russo told a House Administration subcommittee on Wednesday that the department has just 14 outstanding recommendations of the 103 related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. But some of those marked as completed were not fully executed. 

Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said at a panel hearing that it appears recommendations have been closed out at a quicker pace since Russo assumed his role in January and wondered what contributed to that.

“We worked with the department. They would have questions about how close they were to the finish line on some of them, and frankly there were some of them that we could apply compensating controls. They were moving in the right direction,” Russo said. “They met the spirit of the recommendation, and we’re certainly going to follow up and evaluate the thoroughness of their work, but I think we were able to get a few closed through that.”

Some inspector general recommendations were marked as completed but weren’t actually done. One example involves the Containment Emergency Response Team, a specialized tactical unit in the department. Russo’s predecessor, Michael Bolton, recommended that CERT be moved from the Operational Services Bureau to the Protective Services Bureau, which was billed as better supporting the mission to protect members. CERT was never realigned.

“But yet that recommendation has been closed as if it was completed. So the concern that we have is that, are the goal posts being moved to make it easier for the department to appear to be completing recommendations than actually ensuring that it’s being held at a higher standard?” Loudermilk asked. “Are we just seeing maybe easing of the recommendations just to be able to close them out?”

Russo said he disagreed with Bolton’s recommendation and that the issue with CERT was communication, which needs to be sorted out through the chain of command rather than moving the specialized tactical unit to another bureau.

“I don’t think we moved the goal posts,” said Russo, who started with the department in January. “We got a really good middle ground to build upon.”

Loudermilk said it’s important to get a full picture of the recommendations that were not fully completed but marked as such. Russo said he has that information and will provide it to the panel.

Public disclosure

Since the office’s inception, only two inspector general reports have become publicly available. The office is directed by Congress to make its reports publicly available when practical, and Russo said he envisions more being made available in the future.

“My hope is that we’re going to start seeing a steady stream of our reports coming out,” Russo said.

When a report is completed it goes to Chief J. Thomas Manger and his team for response, then to the Capitol Police Board and then to the congressional committees with jurisdiction over the department.

Now that there is a public disclosure process in place, the process is as follows: The inspector general goes through the report to screen for security sensitive information, and then it goes to the department to review, then to the Capitol Police Board and back to the inspector general. Finally, the report is posted online.

The Capitol Police Board, not the inspector general, decides whether a report becomes public, Russo said, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Russo said there was a directive by the Capitol Police Board in 2017 to not make the inspector general reports public. The board comprises the House sergeant-at-arms, the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the Architect of the Capitol. The Capitol Police chief is a non-voting member.

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