U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning from his post after facing widespread criticism for the way he handled a riotous mob of Donald Trump supporters inside the complex, a spokesperson for the department confirmed.
He will formally step down Jan. 16.
Sund had served as chief since June 2019 and had been with the Capitol Police force since 2017.
The most high-profile call for his resignation came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who condemned his response a day after Wednesday’s insurrection and called on Sund to step down.
“There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police. He hasn’t even called us since this happened,” she said, referring to Sund.
Shortly before news broke of Sund’s resignation plans, the union for Capitol Police officers also called for him to step down.
“Without a change at the top, we may see more events unfold like those we saw on January 6th,” the union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement. We cannot leave our officers and the Capitol Hill community they protect, to the mercy of further attacks amid a vacuum of leadership.”
Capitol Police, a federal law enforcement agency tasked with protecting Congress, failed to keep hundreds of rioting Trump supporters out of the Capitol, forcing lawmakers, staff and reporters to go into hiding as the mob tore through the highest chambers of government with firearms and other weapons, fueled by the president’s baseless claims that the presidential election was stolen from him.
More than 50 Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers were injured during the attack, with several needing to be hospitalized with “serious injuries,” Sund said Thursday. Out of hundreds of rioters, some of whom took property from the building, just over a dozen people were arrested for breaking into the building.
Lawmakers vowed to investigate the stunning breach of security, which occurred as they prepared to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump.
Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida and a former police chief, said Wednesday that it was “painfully obvious” Sund’s officers “were not prepared for today. I certainly thought that we would have had a stronger show of force, that there would have been steps taken in the very beginning to make sure that there was a designated area for the protesters a safe distance from the Capitol.”
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) cited a widely shared video that appeared to show a Capitol Police officer posing for pictures with rioters. Like many others have, she contrasted their behavior with that seen of much more forceful cops at anti-racism protests last year.
“Would you take a selfie with someone who was robbing a bank?” she told reporters. “I can’t imagine if a couple of thousand of [Black Lives Matter] protesters had descended on the Capitol ... that there would be 13 people arrested.”
She added: “This building has been completely locked down since March. Nobody has been in this building. How did so many rioters get into this building from so many directions?”