Two years after retiring as Montgomery County’s police chief, Tom Manger says he is focused in his new role on making sure the U.S. Capitol Police aren’t defined by the violent insurrection of Jan. 6.
Manger, 66, was sworn in as chief of the Capitol police on Friday on the steps of the Capitol. The former Montgomery County chief of 15 years inherits the role more than six months after the January attack.
Manger was chosen for the role following a nationwide search, according to a statement from the Capitol Police Board on Thursday (the board consists of the sergeants-at-arms for the Senate and the House of Representatives along with the architect of the Capitol and Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman).
He found out a week ago that he had been nominated for the job, but the nomination had to work its way up the chain of command, he told Bethesda Beat on Saturday.
“I was pleased [to be nominated], but I knew it was a process that was gonna take some time,” he said.
Manger succeeds Pittman, who replaced former Capitol Chief Steven Sund.
Sund was forced out immediately following the January insurrection, in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol.
Five people died, including a Capitol police officer and a woman who was shot by police. Hundreds were injured including more than 140 officers.
Among Manger’s main priorities is improving training, staffing and equipment in the aftermath of the insurrection, he told Bethesda Beat on Saturday.
“For much of the public, all they know about the Capitol police is based on what happened on Jan. 6, and that’s not an accurate impression of this police department,” he said. “This police department has a nearly 200-year history and for folks to define this department by that one day, they’re really doing them a disservice.”
Manger said he has read multiple reports analyzing the January attack, including those from a Senate committee and from the department’s inspector general. There are dozens of recommendations that he hopes to implement, he said.
“There was the issue of not having enough equipment for the officers that were involved in civil disturbance activities, [such as] the helmets and all of the things the officers need to protect themselves when a demonstration crosses the line into unlawful activity,” he said.
Manger also said several recommendations revolved around improving communication about intelligence.
“We need to work on all those things, but we also cannot for one minute take our eye off our main responsibility, which is protecting the Capitol, protecting the members of Congress and protecting the legislative process,” he said.
Manger’s first day in the job included a series of meetings, intelligence briefings and television interviews, followed by a few hours of reading and paperwork, he said.
“It was like drinking from a fire hose starting off and trying to get up to speed,” he said.
Manger has 42 years in law enforcement. That includes serving as Montgomery County’s police chief from 2004 to 2019, and as Fairfax County’s police chief from 1998 to 2004.
He said he’s used to 14-hour workdays, and that Friday “felt like old times.”
Manger added that he thinks having served in multiple law enforcement roles in the D.C. region will help him in his new position.
“I think I know all of the police chiefs in the region of Arlington, Alexandria, Montgomery County, Fairfax County and Washington, D.C. So I think all that’s gonna help that I’ve got those relationships already,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org