Violence and Harassment

Ever since 1995, PEER has maintained the nation’s only database on violence against resource employees. The trend toward violence continues to grow with rank-and-file resource employees, those professionals in the field who are charged with implementing regulations and enforcing environmental laws, bearing the brunt. Across the country, those charged with protecting our environment are the victims of harassment, threats, intimidation, beatings, shootings and bombings.

Besides documenting incidents and calling attention to the problem, PEER helps targeted public servants fight back by filing lawsuits against harassers and pushing for policies that protect the safety of government workers.

Employee violence by year and agency

A Slice of Life in Public Service

    • A National Park Service ranger at Organ Pipe Cactus Monument in Arizona was run over by a moving vehicle driven by an anti-government land owner who had claimed ownership of federal land.
    • Ranchers in Reserve, New Mexico, threatened to kill U.S. Forest Service employees for trying to enforce grazing restrictions intended to protect endangered species.
    • An EPA employee in the Ozarks region of Missouri was beaten, bound with tape and abandoned in her vandalized vehicle by suspected pro-mining activists.
    • A federal mine inspector and his wife were seriously injured when a car bomb exploded while they were driving on a major interstate in California. The explosion occurred hours after a phone death threat to workers in the inspector’s office.
    • A Forest Service ranger in Arizona was harassed, threatened, forcibly thrown out of a public meeting, and then beaten by several attendees. The meeting was sponsored by the local cattle association and featured a prominent “wise use” attorney who spoke about “state’s rights.”
    • An anonymous telephone caller warned a refuge manager in California that he had offered a $15,000 contract to kill the manager.
    • A bomb placed on the windowsill of a Forest Service office in New Mexico exploded, causing $25,000 in damages.
    • A bomb detonated outside the home of a Forest Service district ranger in Carson City, Nevada, destroying the family van, which was parked in the driveway, and blowing out the front windows of his home. The office of that district ranger had previously been firebombed.

Abdication of Justice

Enacted by Congress in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act directed the Attorney General to collect data “relating to crimes and incidents of threats of violence and acts of violence” against government employees and their families in the performance of official duties. It was a law that was never implemented.

Citing the expense and impracticality of the law, the Justice Department immediately began lobbying for its repeal. Among other objections, Justice insisted that the law could not be implemented because it required subjective judgment from the FBI in identifying bona fide threats.

In 2002, Justice succeeded in securing a “Repeal of Compilation of Statistics Relating to Intimidation of Government Employees.” So in addition to abandoning its requirement to track threats, Justice does not keep statistics on bombings, arson, shootings and other crimes against public employees.

By contrast to its stance on public employees, the Department of Justice regards “eco-terrorism” as a top domestic security threat and prepares elaborate and detailed annual reports. If you ask public employees to rank the problems they must confront daily, “eco-terrorism” would not even make the chart. Despite the attention paid to the handful of eco-terrorism incidents, their number and impact are dwarfed by the volume and violence directed by Wise Use and resource-user groups against public employees and facilities.

VIOLENCE AGAINST EMPLOYEES – NEWS FROM PEER

PEERMail | Un-Silencing National Park Service Voices

Park Service employees deserve work environments that are respectful, inclusive, and safe. Their voices should be heard.

Park Service Shelved Employee Harassment Review

Elaborate Employee Outreach Effort Completed in 2018 but Not Distributed

Letter to Charles Sams – NPS Voices Survey – 11-15-2021 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to regarding the NPS Voices listening tour and report identifying culture of employee ...

Ed Patrovsky: A Ranger for Responsible Recreation

Ed worked for the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service as a law enforcement ranger, where he ...

NPS Voices Summary Report – 06-06-2019 (PDF)

Summary Report of The Voices Project, 2019, which encouraged National Park Service employees to speak out about ...

Drop in Reported Violence vs. Federal Employees in the West

Despite Incident Reduction, Land Management Workers Still Have Safety Concerns

On Sex Harassment National Park Service Still Doesn’t Get It

Groping Superintendent Gets Bonus and Lateral Transfer despite Raft of Violations

Forest Service Rangers at Record Low Levels

Assaults and Threats against Forest Workers Spike but Decline in Other Agencies

Malheur Siege Still Shadows Range and Refuges

Survey Reflects Federal Land Management Workers’ Growing Safety Worries

Canaveral Superintendent Kicked Upstairs to Non-Job

“Strategic Planning” Posting Highlights Park Service Accountability Blind Spot

National Park Service Leadership Shaken Not Stirred

Top Woman Out; Top Men Remain Amid Sex Harassment, Ethics & Other Scandals

Open Season on Harassing Fisheries Observers

Assaults More than Double in Two Years with No Reported Enforcement

Attacks Against Federal Range and Forest Workers on Rise

2015 Saw Spike in Reported Threats and Interference on Federal Lands in West

National Park Rangers Under The Gun

Nine-Fold Increase in Attacks During 2001

Oregon Refuge Standoff Latest Extremist Jihad

Federal Inaction for 19 Months on Bundy Spawns More Militia Confrontations

Heated Rhetoric on Nevada Monument Invites Confrontation

Federal Employees in the West Put in Crosshairs by Superheated Political Rhetoric

BLM Reports Record Low Number of Threats in 2014

Despite Armed Standoff, Agency Claims Least Assaults and Threats Since 1996

Surrendered Bundy Documents Shed No Light on Events

BLM: No Criminal Referrals, Cattle Inventory, or Lessons Learned

Nevada U.S. Attorney Sits on Criminal Referrals From BLM

35 Prosecution Requests Made on April 30th Still in Limbo as DOJ Withholds Status

Extremist Anti-Government Militias on the Rise

DHS Assessment Finds Inaction on Bundy Stand-Off Likely to Spur More Violence

Lawsuit Seeks Bundy Documents and Attack Stats on BLM Staff

BLM Stonewalls on Nevada Standoff, Post-Incident Precautions and Lessons Learned

Protecting Forests and Visitors Yields to “Gotcha” Exercises

Suit over Forest Service Assault Stats and Shift to Internal Affairs Investigations

Park Rangers Call for Safety Improvements

Plan to Address Growing Risks to Both Rangers and Visitors

Spike in Attacks on Rangers and Federal Land Managers

2012 Saw Major Increase in Violence Directed at Refuge Mangers & U.S. Park Police

High Seas Harassment of Fisheries Observers More Than Doubles

Nearly One in 5 Victimized Yearly; 160% Jump Since 2007 Yet Few Cases Prosecuted

Mexican Drug Gangs Invade Great Lakes Forests

Forest Service Cops in Michigan and Wisconsin Decry Agency Head-in-Sand Stance

Attacks on Federal Forest and Park Staff Reach All Time High

Incidents More than Triple in National Parks, Forest Violence Up a Third in 2009

ATTACKS ON FISHING OBSERVERS RISE BY ALMOST HALF IN 2006

Number of Reported Threat and Harassment Cases Nearly Triple Since 2004

HIGH SEAS HARASSMENT OF NOAA FISHING OBSERVERS ON RISE

As Incidents Proliferate, NOAA Stops Keeping Track

ABUSES AT NATIONAL BISON RANGE CONFIRMED BY INVESTIGATION

Threats, Intimidation and Safety Concerns Documented in Independent Report

FWS TERMINATES CONTROVERSIAL BISON RANGE AGREEMENT

Agency Rebuffs Efforts by Tribe to Assume Management of Entire Refuge in FY 2007

STAFF REBEL AGAINST HARASSMENT ON BISON RANGE REFUGE

Joint Complaint of Tribe Trying to Drive Off Staff in Order to Take Over Their Jobs

U.S. PARK POLICE AT LOWEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN A DECADE

Retirements Will Send Force Lower as Assaults on Officers Rise

ATTACKS ON FOREST SERVICE STAFF UP FIVEFOLD IN 2005

Urban Ills Penetrating Deep into Backwoods as Law Enforcement Presence Shrinks

ATTACKS ON NATIONAL PARK LAW ENFORCEMENT HIT ANOTHER ALL-TIME HIGH

Ranger and Park Police Staffing Cannot Keep Up With Rising Security and Visitor Demands

ATTACKS ON NATIONAL PARK LAW ENFORCEMENT REACHES ALL-TIME HIGH

Understaffing Aggravated by Interior Department Diverting Officers, Money & Training

VIOLENCE AGAINST PARK RANGERS REMAINS HIGH

Two Deaths and 98 Attacks in 2002, NPS Assailed for Ignoring Growing Trend

MORE ATTACKS ON FEDERAL RESOURCE EMPLOYEES

Violence Against Forest Service, BLM and Wildlife Staff Rises for Third Straight Year

JUNKYARD OWNER THREATENING STATE INSPECTORS

Employee Group Asks DA to Take Action

ATTACKS ON FEDERAL FOREST, FISH AND RANGE WORKERS ON RISE

Forest Service Violence More Than Doubled in 2001

MCINNIS ECO-TERRORISM HEARING DIVERTS ATTENTION FROM REAL PROBLEMS

Gloria Flora Testifies

ATTACKS ON FOREST SERVICE AND BLM WORKERS FALL BY HALF

Assaults, Acts of Arson and Threats Down in 1999, Agencies Report

THREATS AND ASSAULTS AGAINST FEDERAL WILDLIFE STAFF

Fish & Wildlife Service Finally Begins Tracking Attacks on Employees

FOREST SERVICE COMPLAINTS IGNORED BY JUSTICE IN NEVADA

Nevada U.S. Attorney Among LeastResponsive in Nation

REFUGE MANAGERS REPORT HARASSMENT

National Wildlife Refuge Managers report threats