© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

At Least 13 Off-Duty Police Officers Suspected Of Having Taken Part In Capitol Riot


On January 6, thousands of rioters pushed past police barriers, defied police orders to retreat and illegally broke into the U.S. Capitol building. Police officers were injured trying to control the crowd. One was killed. Now we are learning that some of the rioters were sworn officers themselves. I'm joined now by Kimberly Kindy. She's an investigative reporter for The Washington Post.

Hey there.

KIMBERLY KINDY: Hey, thanks for having me.

KELLY: So your story on this says at least 13 off-duty law enforcement officers are suspected of having taken part in some way in the riot. Even more than that were at the rally before. What do we know about these 13?

KINDY: We know that there are that - at least that many who were under investigation for going onto the Capitol grounds. But those numbers - as, you know, police and FBI continue to look at videos and photos, those numbers could, you know, potentially rise.

Just two officers have been arrested by the FBI at this point. Those two officers - they posed inside the Capitol and sent a photo to one of their colleagues. And what was really interesting is that this person turned them in. And I - as I was speaking to police chiefs and others, this is how some of these officers have been outed. Some of them have posted on social media. But in other cases, they've sent it to colleagues, and colleagues have gone to their police chiefs or their unions and said, this crosses the line. I can't support this.

KELLY: What type of consequences might they face? What do we know about how their home police departments are responding?

KINDY: Well, the home police departments are putting them on leave if they have any evidence that they were involved with going into the Capitol. And those police chiefs are turning them in to the FBI for investigation. On the union front - and I've been covering police issues for a very long time - union officials generally stand up for the officers and do what they can to defend them. That is not what I encountered when I talked to union officials this time around. They said, if you went into the Capitol, if you pushed past Capitol Police, you're on your own. Literally, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police said, literally, you're on your own.

KELLY: And what explains that? - because we hear so much in reporting about police misconduct, about the code of silence, the thin blue line, police officers who feel a real sense of loyalty to other police. Why would this be playing out differently, do you think?

KINDY: Because this is such a violation of their sworn duty. They swear to uphold the Constitution. The other thing is just the fact that they not only broke the law, but they endangered Capitol police officers, fellow police officers, pushed past them, violated their orders. They see this as such a breach on - to do this to other officers and with deadly results.

KELLY: You know, the big picture here - this comes, of course, after a year of intense scrutiny of police and of police violence. How worried are police leaders who you interviewed about the credibility of their entire profession?

KINDY: They're very worried. They know their credibility is on - really on the line right now. They're struggling with what to do in the future about having people who are affiliated with and sympathizing with domestic terrorists. The history is incredible. I first started covering this after Ferguson, after, you know, Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo. And the reckoning that keeps happening is just head-spinning for me. That was a head-spinning moment. George Floyd was a head-spinning moment.

And now this - just the visual of everybody being able to see not only on - what happened at the Capitol but also seeing all these videos that go viral where they're seeing firsthand why communities of color have been complaining for so long. And they are having to take a really good, hard look at what they're going to do to repair their relationships. In those communities where one of the officers that they know, that patrol their streets, that they built relationships with - they're the ones who were in the Capitol. And, you know, they say they feel betrayed.

KELLY: That is Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post.

Thanks so much.

KINDY: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!