US Capitol police deaths spark concerns of mass exodus from department

After the lethal Jan 6. insurrection and Friday's attack that left one dead, there's widespread worry that Capitol cops will now leave the force.

The union for the besieged U.S. Capitol Police Department is concerned that there will be a mass exodus of officers seeking to leave its ranks in the wake of the Jan 6. insurrection and the recent attack that left an officer dead.

“We are struggling to meet existing mission requirements, even with the officers working massive amounts of forced overtime,” Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, told NBC News in a statement.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman addresses a press briefing Friday about the recent security incident at the U.S. Capitol that left one police officer dead. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“In the next 3-5 years we have another 500 officers who will be eligible to retire,” according to Papathanasiou. “Many of these officers could put in their retirement papers tomorrow. I’ve had many younger officers confide in me that they’re actively looking at other agencies and departments right now.”

He said that the force is 233 officers below its authorized staff of over 2,000.

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On Friday, 25-year-old Noah Green drove into a U.S. Capitol barrier and reportedly lunged at two officers with a knife before being shot to death. One, 18-year Capitol Police veteran William Evans, later succumbed to his injuries. The second injured officer, Kenny Shaver, was released from an area hospital Saturday.

Papathanasiou said Evans was “well respected” and that his death had left other officers “reeling.”

“We have now lost two officers in the line of duty this year,” said Papathanasiou. “Another officer has taken his own life and we have 80 officers who were seriously injured in the insurrection. Some of those injured officers may never return to duty.”

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The Capitol police union and other task force leaders are calling on Congress to increase funding to the department to aid in retaining officers. Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré said that the Capitol police department “deserves” a plan that works to keep officers safe.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt told ABC’s This Week that Congress should invest in gathering intelligence that targets the Capitol, but also said he supports removing the permanent fencing around the Capitol complex because of its symbolism.

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