How the New Capitol Police Chief Wants to Fix an Embattled Force

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J. Thomas Manger said the brutal onslaught connected Jan. 6 persuaded him to travel retired of status to effort to assistance get the Capitol Police section “where it needs to be.”

J. Thomas Manger was sworn successful  arsenic  main  of the United States Capitol Police connected  Friday.
Credit...Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

July 23, 2021, 7:06 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — J. Thomas Manger, a seasoned constabulary main of departments successful the Greater Washington, D.C., region, began enactment connected Friday arsenic main of the United States Capitol Police, taking implicit a astir 2,000-member unit that is successful situation successful the aftermath of the Capitol riot connected Jan. 6.

Chief Manger came retired of status to instrumentality connected the presumption aft much than 4 decades successful policing, astir precocious arsenic main of constabulary successful Montgomery County, Md., wherever helium served for 15 years. Before that, helium led the Fairfax County, Va., police.

On his archetypal time connected the occupation astatine the Capitol, Mr. Manger spoke with The New York Times astir the authorities of the astir two-century-old bureau and his plans to amended information aft the deadliest onslaught connected the gathering since the War of 1812.

This interrogation had been edited for magnitude and clarity.

This is simply a large task. You’re taking implicit the Capitol Police astatine a clip erstwhile the bureau is nether tremendous stress. More than 70 officers person retired oregon resigned since the unit of Jan. 6 during which dozens of officers suffered precise superior injuries. Pundits are criticizing the bureau constantly, and determination are aggregate investigations into the force’s shortcomings. Why bash you privation this job?

It was mostly watching what happened present connected Jan. 6. You know, I’ve been a constabulary main successful the Washington D.C. country for implicit 20 years. When I saw what occurred, it truly motivated maine to get backmost to what I’ve done my full career. For the archetypal clip since I retired from my past main job, successful 2019, I wanted to get backmost into the profession, not conscionable to get backmost to being constabulary chief, but to get backmost to being constabulary main present successful the U.S. Capitol — to instrumentality this large section and effort to assistance get it to wherever it needs to be.

But you didn’t initially use for the opening, correct? You were recruited.

I yet applied. Recruiters reached retired to maine and asked maine if I was interested. The much I thought astir it, I thought I truly could usage my acquisition to assistance this department. I can’t accent this enough: This is simply a large constabulary department. It’s been a large constabulary department, and I cognize that for a fact. But Jan. 6 demonstrated that determination were immoderate instrumentality and grooming and staffing issues that request to beryllium worked on.

I was successful the gathering connected Jan. 6, truthful I cognize what a unspeakable time it was for constabulary officers, lawmakers and staff. Almost everyone I speech to has truly earthy emotions from that day. Where were you were the onslaught happened, and what was going done your mind?

I was astatine home. I was riveted to the TV. It impacted maine precise profoundly and precise emotionally. Watching each those cops get hurt, and watching these folks who had nary attraction oregon information for our country. The callous disregard, the mode they attacked these cops — that impacted maine significantly. I felt a operation of sadness and anger. But also, it made maine deliberation that I possibly had immoderate acquisition and immoderate quality that mightiness beryllium capable to help.

There person been respective reports by the Capitol Police inspector general, retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré and Senate committees that contiguous a beauteous damning representation of the agency’s preparations and effect to the Jan. 6 onslaught connected aggregate levels. Officers didn’t person much-needed riot gear. Serious threats of unit from Trump supporters were ignored oregon discounted. Required grooming successful assemblage power hadn’t been done. How bash you rebuild this unit truthful a akin onslaught doesn’t hap again? What is the archetypal country you privation to tackle?

I’m precise grateful that this constabulary section did not hold astir for a caller main to beryllium hired to commencement moving connected those recommendations. [Acting] Chief [Yogananda D.] Pittman and the enactment successful this department, they saw the recommendations that came retired of General Honoré’s study and the inspector general’s study and they’ve already enactment a batch of things successful process to instrumentality those recommendations. There are dozens and dozens of recommendations — possibly adjacent to 100 erstwhile you number each of the reports that person been done. You tin enactment them successful definite categories: training, staffing, policy, equipment. You tin enactment connected galore of them simultaneously.

Look, it’s not similar we were lacking for courageousness and dedication. These men and women person that, and displayed that connected Jan. 6. We’ve got plentifulness of that. We conscionable request to marque definite that those men and women person the enactment and the instrumentality and the grooming that the section needs to supply for them, and they’ll get the occupation done.

You’ve led accepted constabulary departments before, successful the suburban counties of Montgomery and Fairfax, that analyse robberies and marque postulation stops and respond to 911 calls, each the things accepted constabulary departments do. But the Capitol Police are unique. How bash you spot the bureau transforming nether your tenure?

You’re precisely right. Our ngo is unique. Our responsibilities are antithetic than a accepted constabulary section successful a metropolis oregon town. But the information of the substance is we are serving the public. Our wide occupation is to support radical safe. Dealing with protests and dignitary extortion — I really had immoderate of those responsibilities connected a smaller standard successful erstwhile jobs. I bash recognize what however this occupation is different, but determination are immoderate things that are precisely the same. You’ve got astir 2,000 men and women who travel to enactment each time and person the work to support a assemblage safe. Making definite you prosecute the close people, giving folks the grooming they need, making definite that you’re holding folks accountable — those are cosmopolitan concepts, and that’s a large portion of a constabulary chief’s job. In that regard, this is not altogether antithetic than immoderate of the responsibilities that I’ve had successful the past.

But the things that bash marque this unsocial — the dignitary extortion aspects of it — we bash request to look astatine what we’re doing and ask: Do we request to amended it? Do we really request much radical to bash it correctly? So, we’re not lone going to look astatine the recommendations that travel retired of the inspector general’s report, but I’m besides listening to the members of Congress and their staffs. What bash they want? What are their expectations? We person a batch of bully accusation to get america started, but immoderate constabulary section successful this state tin amended by looking astatine itself from the wrong out.

For us, Jan. 6 has fixed america an accidental for america to beryllium a amended constabulary department.

Will Acting Chief Pittman beryllium staying connected the job, and, if so, what relation volition she have?

Chief Pittman has done an astonishing occupation since Jan. 6. She is the 1 who has truly led the mode to getting things started connected immoderate of the improvements that request to beryllium made. And I’m truly grateful for the bully enactment she’s done implicit the past six months. If I had my way, she volition proceed to beryllium portion of my enactment team. I deliberation she has truthful galore large qualities.

Do you person immoderate reservations astir taking this position?

Look, I was precise happy. I had a 42-year career. When I retired, it was benignant of a alleviation to not person a 24/7 responsibility, which I had for astir of my career. So, the lone preservation I had was: Do I truly privation to get backmost and bash this? And the reply to that question is yes, I do. I tin archer you, from my archetypal time here, I cognize I’ve made the close decision. I couldn’t beryllium much arrogant of the men and women of this constabulary department.

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