Officer at U.S. Capitol riots talks disaster management in Winnipeg

Ramey Kyle is still angry about what he experienced on Jan. 6.

A commander with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., Kyle stood at the doors of the U.S. Capitol Building with a team of officers working to keep throngs of angry rioters from breaching the building in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

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As the world watched the violence live on television and social media, Kyle was at the heart of it.

“Even today, it just seems so unreal that those events unfolded,” Kyle told 680 CJOB in Winnipeg on Wednesday, where he is slated to share his story with other disaster management experts.

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“I still hold a lot of anger about it, just that, you know, that it happened and was so pointless and so many people were injured, and so many people lost their lives.

“It’s just a disastrous event.”

Kyle is one of several experts from across North America taking part in the 2021 Manitoba Disaster Management Conference, an event held to “further increase the level of emergency preparedness in Manitoba and promote the principles of disaster management planning and public awareness,” according to organizers.

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With attendees including first responders, policymakers, and emergency preparedness planners, the conference is billed as an opportunity to share information, tools and experiences.

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Kyle certainly has an experience to share.

He says he plans to talk about preparations the department made leading up to the insurrection, the importance of partnering with other agencies and, ultimately, the lessons he and his colleagues learned.

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, a man holds a Bible as Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“January 6 was kind of the culmination of a lot of events in Washington that had been going on, you know, for the past year or so,” Kyle said.

“We had seen them become larger in size and larger in their intensity, so we knew that on January 6 that we were going to have something a little bit bigger and a little more intense.

“We’re going to bring our firsthand experiences and share those with the members here.”

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Hundreds of people have since been charged in the attempted insurrection that saw a mob infiltrate the Capitol, sending the then-vice president and members of Congress running for their lives, causing more than $1 million in damage, and leaving dozens of police officers wounded.

At least nine people who were there died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump suffered medical emergencies.

Two police officers died by suicide in the days that immediately followed, and a third officer collapsed and died after engaging with the protesters.

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In the months since, the Metropolitan Police has announced that at least two more of their officers who had responded to the insurrection have died by suicide.

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“It was a traumatic event,” Kyle says, adding that the department is working to provide support to officers who were there.

“Many officers that responded there, you know, they suffered not only physical injuries, but also emotional injuries, and they’re dealing with that today.”

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Despite the violence swirling around him that day, Kyle says he found strength in watching his colleagues working to quell the riot.

He says that’s something he’s hoping to leave with those who hear his story in Winnipeg this week.

“No matter how dire the circumstances are, no matter how outnumbered you are, you have to rely on your training, you have to rely on your co-workers and your friends,” he said.

“One way or the other, you have to get through and you have to be successful.”

–With files from The Associated Press

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