U.S. Capitol Police Steven Sund resigns amid criticism of the department’s response to rioters who stormed the Capitol to protest President Donald Trump’s electoral loss.
Sund’s resignation will take effect Jan. 16, days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, a police spokeswoman said on Thursday. The announcement comes shortly after the department’s union leader called for a “change at the top.”
The officers are “frustrated and demoralized” by how a lack of leadership has undermined the response to the crowd, according to a statement from Gus Papathanasiou, the union president. Papathanasiou blamed failure and planning while praising the officers for their work.
“We gave priority to life on the property, which led people to safety,” the statement said. “No member of Congress or its staff were injured. Our officers did their job. Our leaders did not. Our law enforcement partners who helped us were remarkable.”
The statement did not call for the resignation of the force chief, Steven Sund. Sund praised the officers earlier Thursday, calling their actions “heroic” and calling the chaos that erupted “criminal riot behavior”.
The Capitol Police response was criticized for its inability to prevent rioters from entering the building. Earlier Thursday, Biden criticized what he described as a double standard between the police response to the pro-Trump mob and the way they treat Black Lives Matter supporters over the summer.
“No one can tell me that if it was a group of Black Lives Matter who protested yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs who stormed the Capitol,” a- he said. “We all know it’s true. And it’s unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer called the police response a “failure” and added that it “raises a lot of questions.”
“There are clearly failures,” he said. “There must be a lot of questions asked and answers given. What is very clear is that the police underestimated the violent crowd and its size, and overestimated their ability to control it.”
Rioters were able to force their way into the Capitol on Wednesday in the first major breach since the War of 1812, when British soldiers set the legislature on fire. Trump had spoken to his supporters earlier today and encouraged them to come to Capitol Hill to protest the Electoral College vote count by Congress.
Authorities were finally able to clear the building from the crowds and allow lawmakers to revert to what was previously considered a ceremonial process. Members of the House and Senate worked overnight to certify the ballots for all 50 states, confirming Biden’s victory.