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Police chief confident Capitol won’t see attack like Jan. 6 again

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(WASHINGTON) -- One year after a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the halls of Congress -- sending lawmakers fleeing and leaving the building ransacked -- the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police expressed confidence in an interview with ABC News that his force would be able to effectively prevent any similar kind of attack on the nation’s legislative branch from happening again.

"I believe we can, and I don't say that as a challenge to anybody, " Chief Tom Manger said in a new interview with ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. "But I do believe we can. I mean, one, when you look at what went wrong on [Jan. 6], we didn't have enough people, there were training issues, equipment issues. You know, there were things that we -- that with regard to intelligence that we probably should have addressed, but we didn't."

"Those issues have been addressed," Manger said.

A bipartisan report on the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol released by the Senate Homeland Security Committee in June showed there were widespread security failures on the part of the Capitol Police and law enforcement.

The intelligence division of the Capitol Police ​​"knew from online posts of a plot to breach the Capitol and posts that contained Capitol Complex maps of the tunnel systems, yet did not convey the full scope of known information to USCP leadership, rank-and-file officers or law enforcement partners," the report found.

A comprehensive review of police officer body camera footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol found roughly 1,000 instances of assault against members of law enforcement who were trying to protect the building, according to Department of Justice court filings. Approximately 140 officers suffered injuries as they battled for hours with the pro-Trump mob, and, according to Manger, some are still unable to return to regular duties.

While some officers were back the next day "even though they were hurting and they've worked every day since that," Manger said, "We've had some officers that have been out because of their injuries. The healing process is happening, and we're doing everything we can to provide assistance to these officers. What we had in place prior to Jan. 6 for employee wellness and employee assistance is minuscule compared to what we have in place today."

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, recently tweeted a photo of injuries he said he sustained in the attack and repudiated those who have since sought to minimize the seriousness of the insurrection.

"To some, my efforts and injuries are just an exaggeration," he tweeted along with a bruised foot and hand. "THEY did this to me. This why it matters to me and should matters to you."

Manger said he is "concerned" about some of the lessons he feels people around the country seem to have taken away from the Jan. 6 attack.

"I think there's a lot of folks that in our country, regrettably, in my opinion, that if they have disagreements with someone else, political disagreements or just disagreements about anything, that instead of having a civil conversation about something, if you disagree with me, then you're my enemy," Manger said. "And if you're my enemy, I can hurt you. I mean this -- I don't know how this, this notion, you know, became so acceptable to so many people, but that that really is what concerns me the most."

Manger, who was retired from a more than four-decade career in law enforcement at the time of the Capitol assault, told ABC News the department is still facing issues with its staffing levels despite what he called an "apparent" bump in recruitment interest from those like himself who watched the insurrection unfold.

"We've had no trouble recruiting people to join the Capital Police Department," the chief said. "Of course, our challenge is to make sure we're hiring the right people in terms of our staffing. We are right now probably at least 200 people down from where we were a couple of years ago, and we're about 400 people down from where we should be."

Assessing the current threats leading up to the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6, Manger told ABC News that he has seen no indication of any significant demonstrations that would be a cause for concern. However, he stressed that if that changes, Capitol Police are more than capable of quickly putting up the steel fencing around the complex to guard against any potential threats.

"I'm going to be very judicious about recommending that we put the fence up for anything," Manger said. "There's nothing that I'm hearing now that’s of concern. There's a lot, of course, a lot of chatter about Jan. 6, but so far I'm not aware of any big demonstrations that are going to be here."

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