Capitol Police Chief Calls For Permanent Fence Around Building
Yogananda Pittman, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, recommended on Thursday that permanent fencing should be placed around the building following the events of January 6 that saw supporters of former President Donald Trump riot outside before breaking into the complex, as reported by CNN.
“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” Pittman said in a statement.
Pittman, who took over the role following the resignation of Capitol Police chief Steven Sund in the aftermath of the events on January 6, argued that an improvement to security has long been under consideration, adding that security experts have been urging for a change since before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol,” she continued.
If the fence were installed, it would mark a dramatic change from the accessibility given to visitors. Previously, people were allowed to explore the grounds and trails around the building, with students allowed inside on field trips. However, that is likely to change following the riots which resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer, and many participants facing charges.
Pittman’s recommendation did receive pushback, with Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser writing on Twitter that while the extra security should be permitted for certain events, it should not become a permanent fixture at the Capitol.
“When the time is right, the fencing around the White House and U.S. Capitol, just like the plywood we’ve seen on our businesses for too long, will be taken down,” she wrote.
Others who stood against the proposal include Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York and Rep. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, who noted on Twitter that going through with the efforts would turn the building into a “fortress.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was one of the primary targets by the Trump supporters who made it inside of the Capitol, did not have a solid opinion when questioned by reporters about Pittman’s recommendation, saying he would listen to the experts when it came to the security in the building while at the same hoping for a balance between safety and the right to access.