Washington, DC — U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers filed a written complaint with National Park Service Director Fran Mainella asking for disciplinary action against Mainella’s deputy, Don Murphy, only hours before Murphy took action against Chief Chambers, according to a memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
In her December 2, 2003, complaint, Chief Chambers described, “an increasingly hostile work environment he [Murphy] created…” In the letter to Mainella, Chief Chambers also cited Murphy —
· Verbally attacking Chief Chambers during a nationwide conference call of Park Service leadership;
· Authorizing the release of confidential personnel records concerning Chief Chambers; and
· Repeatedly using “emotionally charged’ and “unprofessional” language disparaging the Chief.
Chief Chambers asked Director Mainella to discipline Murphy and requested a public apology from Murphy for his remarks. Instead, three hours later Murphy ordered Chief Chambers to stop engaging in interviews of any kind. Three days later, Murphy directed Chief Chambers to surrender her badge, gun, and law enforcement identification, placing her on administrative leave – a step normally reserved only for those law enforcement personnel accused of criminal acts. Yet, in this case, neither Murphy nor an attorney from the Solicitor’s Office could tell Chief Chambers whether she had violated any rules or regulations saying, instead, that they were still “researching” that aspect. A little more than two weeks later, without conducting an investigation or interviewing Chief Chambers, Murphy proposed to terminate her on the basis of unrelated allegations having to do with an interview she did with The Washington Post and discussions she had with a Congressional staff member on a routine matter.
Murphy’s actions took place with a backdrop of a campaign of harassment directed against Chief Chambers and her top deputies, including the scattering of nails under the tires of their assigned vehicles, placement of used condoms on and around assigned vehicles, computer break-ins, pepper-spraying office doors, and other hostile incidents.
“Don Murphy has been doing everything possible to make it hard for Chief Chambers to do her job,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Any close examination of Murphy’s conduct strongly suggests that he should not occupy a position supervising professionals.”
The Department of Interior, the parent agency for the Park Service, is now evaluating the voluminous response filed earlier this week by Chief Chambers to allegations made by Murphy. A decision is expected later this month.