Looks like the acting leadership of the Capitol police won’t get much of a honeymoon from its rank and file. The union representing the officers took a vote on confidence in the acting administration of Yogananda Pittman, and the results were almost unanimous … and not in a good way for Pittman. The union made sure everyone knew just how little confidence members have in their leadership:
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) February 15, 2021
You can read this in the tweet above, but WJLA also reprinted the results. These totals make it plain that the current leadership class has almost zero chance of connecting with the rank and file at the moment, although there is some question as to the level of participation in the vote:
- Acting Chief Pittman – 92 percent
- Assistant Chief Thomas- 96 percent
- Acting Assistant Chief Gallagher – 84 percent
- Deputy Chief Bowen – 85 percent
- Deputy Chief Pickett – 91 percent
- Deputy Chief Waldow – 64 percent
- Captain Ben Smith – 97 percent
It’s a measure of just how bad morale is at the moment that the most popular senior leader in the Capitol police force only gets to 36% confidence from fellow officers. The Washington Post reported that only 43% of members took part in this vote, however:
The officers voted by wide margins to signal no confidence in acting police chief Yogananda D. Pittman, a 19-year veteran of the department who took the post on Jan. 8 after the resignation of Steven Sund, and in six other leaders, including Assistant Chief Chad B. Thomas and Sean Gallagher, the acting assistant chief for protective and intelligence operations.
About 650 officers — out of about 1,500 who could have — took part in the vote, according to internal documents obtained by The Post. …
The union representing Capitol Police officers held separate no confidence votes for all seven leaders. No officers above the rank of sergeant could vote. From Thursday to Friday, 657 out of about 1,530 eligible officers cast votes, according to a person familiar with the process. Of those, nearly all, 611, voted no confidence in the acting chief.
It’s not terribly clear that this is a mitigation. Leadership apparently did try to head off this result once the union announced last week that it would hold this vote. They tried to promote Pittman as an agent of change:
In its statement, the Capitol Police highlighted notes of support it received from the previous president of its fraternal order of police and the local Teamsters union. It also defended Pittman’s work to improve her department.
“Since the appointment of Acting Chief Pittman two days after the attack, she and her executive team took quick action to improve intelligence and operational communications with all officers,” the police said. “The entire USCP continues to work diligently to see to it that what happened on January 6 will never happen again, and that all officers will have the tools and resources they need, both personally and professionally.”
Clearly, the rank and file want change — just more of it.
This puts some pressure on Congress to deal with the unrest in the ranks. They have ultimate authority over the USCP, and its two sergeants-at-arms make up half of the USCP board. It’s almost certain now that Congress will form a commission to investigate the Capitol riot of January 6th and the USCP response to it, but the rank and file might not want to wait around for months with its current leadership. If they begin to vote with their feet — as Minneapolis police did after the George Floyd riots — then Congress may find itself in even more serious risk than before. They had better start thinking about fresh leadership from outside the previous chain of command to restore morale and confidence.