“They just stayed there the entire time, waiting,” the former official familiar with the events told NBC News.
The roughly 50 DHS personnel, all from various parts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, were waiting in a staging area inside the Ronald Reagan Building, just 13 blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol.
The officers, in blue, and the agents, in green, had waited in the same place this summer, just before they were called in to respond to protests outside the White House in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In that instance, they were called to be deployed by then-Attorney General William Barr.
On Wednesday, however, they were standing by to be deployed at the discretion of DHS’s Federal Protective Service, the officials told NBC News. FPS, which is responsible for protecting federal buildings and property, was one of a handful of federal agencies asked to be ready to respond to the upcoming protests, in coordination with the Capitol Police.
FPS had asked CBP to have agents on standby on Monday, Jan. 4, but did not call them during the heat of the siege on the Capitol Wednesday. Some CBP agents were eventually deployed, but it was only after dusk and after the violence had largely subsided, the officials said.