US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger and House Sergeant at Arms William Walker are working to identify officers with extremist views who could impact security at the Capitol, they told lawmakers on Tuesday.
The comments come a year after the deadly Capitol insurrection, which put a spotlight on the law enforcement agencies tasked with protecting the building and the conduct of officers before and after the attack.
Walker said his office has developed a potential insider threat awareness program with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security to uncover insider threats posed by employees “who do lose their compass.”
“The goal is to have police officers trained as insider threat specialists so we recognize the signs and symptoms and indicators that someone’s allegiance has changed,” Walker said during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, adding his office will brief that plan to the full Capitol Police Board in coming months.
Manger said during the same hearing on Tuesday that he thinks “it all begins with the hiring process,” adding background investigations, polygraphs and social media investigations are critical to ensuring the department is hiring candidates who are suitable for the job.
“After you hire someone, you do need to ensure that you have the kind of checks that are necessary to make sure that there’s not something that has changed in terms of their background,” the chief said.
“Having really good in-depth investigations to determine if an officer is involved or engaged in some kind of activity that would lead to a question about their loyalty to our mission – that’s important as well to make sure that those investigations are done thoroughly and decisive actions taken on those cases,” Manger said.
Walker also said during his testimony that part of his efforts would include trying to “introduce some kind of security clearance for capitol police officers,” noting that it could give Capitol security forces the opportunity to periodically reassess officers’ backgrounds and root out a change in mentality.
CNN reported last year that following the riot, security forces on the Hill took action against a number of officers, with more than two dozen USCP officers being placed under investigation for their actions during the attack. Several other officers were also suspended without pay last year for their behavior on January 6, 2021.