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Capitol Police chief warns threat level is "much higher" than a year ago — but a repeat of January 6 is "much less likely"

Insurrection prompts change for Capitol Police
Insurrection prompts change for Capitol Police 02:40

The chief of the United States Capitol Police said the department needs help keeping up with a surge in threats to lawmakers and the Capitol complex itself. 

"The threat level is much higher than it was a year ago," said chief Tom Manger in an interview with CBS News. "It's exponentially higher than it was five years ago." 

The cases include communications or actions intended to inflict physical, psychological or other harm on lawmakers and the Capitol building, as well as so-called "Direction of Interest" cases, such as disturbing social media posts, stalking or harassment. 

In all, such threats totaled about 9,600 in 2021, he said.

"Right now, we're prioritizing the ones that are most concerning," Manger said. "We're going to have to get additional folks to handle these kinds of threats."  

Still, Manger said his agency has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the riot that occurred last January 6.   

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A pro-Trump mob floods into the Capitol Building after breaking into it on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

"There could be a situation where something unexpected happens that we're not prepared for, but I will tell you that today, it is much less likely something like [January 6] could occur because of the things that we've put into place." 

Manger said the department has specifically addressed areas such as planning for big demonstrations, intelligence gathering and making sure officers have the training and equipment they need. 

Testifying before the Senate last month, the department's inspector general, Michael Bolton, told lawmakers that though there have been security improvements, the department still has more to do to make the Capitol building and grounds "safe and secure."  

In a series of reports throughout the year, Bolton reviewed the failures that let rioters overrun officers and enter the Capitol, and made recommendations for improvement. In Bolton's final report, obtained by CBS News, his office revealed that out of 104 recommendations, only 30 had been fully implemented.  

Manger said the department is in the process of addressing most of the remaining recommendations. He said training continues to be an area in need of "significant improvement."

"It's a difficult challenge right now because we're so short-staffed that some of the things that we could do in terms of training can't be done because we can't free up officers from their duties to address some of the training needs, " Manger said. 

About 130 officers have left the force since January 6, a spokesman for the department told CBS News last month. Manger said he wants to hire 400 additional sworn officers total, and the department has a plan in place to hire about 280 this year. Bolton cautioned that efforts to increase hiring would not be a quick fix because training new recruits takes about a year.  

To investigate threats more efficiently, Manger said the department has opened two field offices in Florida and California, the two states where the department has the most cases.  

"It's paid off in terms of some of the cases that we've had to look into," Manger said. 

Yet, officials tell CBS News threats are up because temperatures are running high when it comes to the country's political discourse.  

"It remains to be seen if it just keeps increasing at the level that it has increased," Manger said. "Or do we as a country get to a point where enough people say 'enough is enough, you know, this is not good for our nation to have this level of vitriol.'" 

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