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Capitol Police assistant chief cited for January 6 failures takes helm at UC Berkeley

University heralded her interested in racism and diversity

A top law enforcement officer who faced criticism for her failure to properly respond to the violence at the capitol on January 6, 2021 recently started her new gig as the police chief at the University of California Berkeley.

Former U.S. Capitol Police assistant chief Yogananda Pittman began her new position on Feb. 1.

The College Fix reached out to the campus police department seeking answers from Pittman but did not receive a response to questions about criticism of her leadership. The police department did not respond to the inquiry sent in the past week via email.

A UC Berkeley news release noted Pittman would focus on “building trust” and that the chancellor was “confident that Yogananda Pittman has all of the skills, qualities and experience necessary to excel.”

But Pittman (pictured) could not get the same vote of confidence from the United States Capitol Police Labor Committee, the union that represents capitol law enforcement, nor from the U.S. House committee that investigated the events of January 6.

“Now that Yogananda Pittman is leaving the USCP, our Police Department is far better off without her and her failed leadership,” Chairman Gus Papathanasiou told The Fix via email. He said that “her failure within the intel division of the USCP under her area of responsibility led to the worst security breach at the US Capitol.”

He added “the union’s vote of no confidence spoke volumes in how the rank and file officers truly felt and viewed Pittman’s incompetence and failure before, during and after January 6th 2021.”

“The Board took this unprecedented step after reviewing details of the events on, and leading up to, January 6th and the subsequent deaths of 6 people, and injuries to approximately 140 Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers,” the news release said.

Members voted 92 percent in support of a no confidence vote.

UC Berkeley officials praised Pittman in their announcement for her commitment to “social justice” and fighting racism, though it did not have comment on the union citation of the new police leader.

The university told The Fix it had “no comment to offer on the union vote you refer to,” spokesman Dan Mogulof said via email.

When asked by The Fix what about Pittman’s experience interested the university, Mogulof pointed to the official university announcement sent out to the UC Berkeley campus community.

That message said that one important quality the school looked for was a “demonstrated commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice.”

That public news release noted Pittman’s interest in “racism” as a “public health issue.” Chancellor Carol Christ cited Pittman’s “steadfast commitment to reform and social justice.”

“Respect for diversity and inclusion will be crucial,” to Pittman’s mission, the news release noted.

The union also pointed The Fix to a whistleblower letter from an unidentified capitol police commander addressed to multiple members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The letter condemned Pittman’s leadership on Jan. 6 and demanded an investigation into her actions. It also accused her of not being entirely truthful in her testimony to Congress.

Other law enforcement officers criticized the leadership of Capitol Police, according to a report from the January 6 committee.

One officer said there was a “lack of leadership” on that day and the whole situation was “hectic” and police lacked “command and control.”

During a February 25, 2021 hearing, Pittman blamed her commanders on the ground for the failures.

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IMAGE: US Capitol Police/YouTube

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About the Author
William Biagini -- Florida State University