Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman has been designated by the U.S. Capitol Police as its new Acting Chief after her predecessor, Steven Sund, announced his resignation. Her appointment comes after the disturbing January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.
The outgoing chief, whose resignation takes effect on January 16, had been under pressure from lawmakers to resign following the unprecedented incident that left five people – including a Capitol officer – dead.
A Morgan State University alumna, Pittman’s January 8 appointment makes her the first woman and the first African American to serve as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, the institution announced in a statement.
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Pittman, who joined the USCP in 2001, was first assigned to the Senate Division, providing security as well as protective details for Senators and dignitaries who visited the building, the USCP said on its website. She was promoted to Sergeant in 2006, and then rose to attain the Lieutenant rank in 2010. Pittman also notably became one of the first African-American women on the force to be promoted to Captain.
In the aftermath of the deadly riots, Sund came under intense scrutiny for the department’s lack of preparedness and planning in ensuring the Capitol was safe and secure from the pro-Trump supporters. The rioters, who were in the nation’s capital to protest the results of the presidential elections, overpowered officers and forced their way into the building while officials were counting the state electoral votes to certify Joe Biden as president-elect. The session had to be suspended, and Vice President Mike Pence as well as the senators and representatives had to be moved to safety. They later reconvened after the protesters were cleared and the building was secured. That, however, took hours.
The officers were also called out for being too “soft” on the rioters, and people compared their handling of the situation to the excessive use of force that was meted to largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters last year.
“There was much intel of what this group was coming to D.C. to do,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson told CBS News. “They had been talking about it on social media. The president actually was promoting it. The fact that law enforcement agencies, particularly the Capitol Police, was ill-equipped to deal with what their stated purpose was, and it was to disrupt the certification of the election, that’s in stark contrast to the peaceful protests that we’ve seen in D.C. and all across the country.”