In a hearing before the newly formed House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, four law enforcement officers testified to their harrowing experiences. Amid much talk about what happened and who’s responsible, they discussed another critical issue that too often goes unmentioned.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn:
More than six months later, January 6 still isn’t over for me. I have had to avail myself of multiple counseling sessions from the Capitol Police Employee Assistance Program, and I am now receiving private counseling therapy for the persistent emotional trauma of that day. I have also participated in many peer support programs with fellow law enforcement officers from around the United States. I know so many other officers continue to hurt, both physically and emotionally.
I want to take this moment to speak to my fellow officers about the emotions they are continuing to experience from the events of January 6. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling. What we went through that day was traumatic, and if you are hurting please take advantage of the counseling services that are available to us. I also respectfully ask that this Select Committee review the services available to us and consider whether they are sufficient enough to meet our needs, especially with respect to the amount of leave that we are allowed.
Telling the truth shouldn’t be hard. Fighting on January 6, that was hard. Showing up January 7, that was hard. The 8th, the 9th, the 10th, all the way ‘til today, that was hard. When the fence came down, that was hard. We lost our layer of protection that we had, and the fence came down and still, nothing has changed. Everything is different, but nothing has changed.
Nearly seven months have passed since January 6, but it’s clear that day is far from over. Alongside the fight for truth is a fight for adequate trauma response and mental health supports in a police culture that doubles down on the mental health stigmatization faced by society at-large. Not only does Congress need to do right by these brave officers and their colleagues, but the time is long past due to ensure that anyone who needs this kind of care can access it affordably and without shame or fear of reprisal.
The full written and video testimony of USCP Officer Dunn, USCP Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, and Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges is available on the committee’s website.