Threats against members of Congress up 93% in 2021 compared to last year, Capitol Police chief says

As a hearing examining the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington continued on Wednesday, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police said there has been an increase in threats against lawmakers this year in comparison to this time last year.

Acting Capitol Chief of Police Yogananda Pittman testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee, where she said that there has been a more than 93% increase in the number of threats received by members of Congress in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

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Pittman said there has been more than a 118% increase in total threats and directions of interests from 2017 to 2020.

"In the Department’s efforts to address new and emerging threats, we work closely with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to augment and strengthen off-campus security and Member protection," Pittman said. "We routinely collaborate to assess members’ district and state office security, and we provide recommendations on ways to improve and enhance security measures and practices inside and outside of the National Capital Region."

Pittman stated that the "overwhelming majority" of suspects in threat cases resided outside of Washington, D.C., and noted that the level of existential threats to the U.S. Capitol and Grounds are increasing as well.

This testimony comes nearly two months after pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 Electoral College results by storming the U.S. Capitol, which left five people — including a police officer — dead.

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"The USCP [United States Capitol Police] is steadfast in ensuring that an incident of this nature will never occur again, especially with the realization that the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the current environment is a very real and present danger," Pittman said. "The events of Jan. 6, 2021, demonstrate that the USCP must continue to quickly assess, adjust, and utilize the tactics and methods necessary to successfully carry out our mission in any scenario."

Pittman said this "rising threat of domestic terrorism" will require a significant investment in training, tools and information gathering resources to meet its security challenges.

Pittman was designated as Acting Chief of Police on Jan. 8, 2021 by the Capitol Police Board — two days after the siege on the U.S. Capitol.

This story was written from Los Angeles.