PRESS RELEASE

PARK POLICE FACE GROWING CHALLENGES WITH FEWER OFFICERS

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Washington, DC — As Teresa Chambers awaits the outcome of her case for
reinstatement, the National Park Service is staging a four-hour ceremony for
the formal investiture of her former deputy as the next Chief of the U.S. Park
Police, according to invitations posted today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). As he is sworn in, Dwight Pettiford inherits an organization
that is smaller than it was on September 11, 2001 but with much greater responsibilities
than ever before.

In December 2003, Chief Chambers was suspended for confirming to the Washington
Post that protection of national monuments aggravated shortages of officers
available to patrol parks and parkways. Since that time, there are even fewer
sworn U.S. Park Police officers yet demands on those officers have grown:

  • The opening of the World War II Memorial and the re-opening of the Statute
    of Liberty have significantly increased monument security responsibilities;
  • The number of accidents, injuries and drunk driving arrests on the five
    major D.C. area parkways has steadily grown. Low staffing levels lengthen
    response time and increase the danger for officers who respond to roadside
    emergencies without backup; and
  • Homeland Security alerts and special events, such as the Ronald Reagan
    funeral, cause exceptional spikes of overtime demands on an overworked officer
    cadre.

In an April 2000 Report to Congress, the National Park Service estimated that
it needed 806 officers for the United States Park Police Force. At the time
of that report there were approximately 638 sworn officers. The latest figures
show only 621 officers.

“Unlike the miracle of loaves and fishes, the U.S. Park Police cannot
keep up with expanding demands with contracting resources,” stated PEER
Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The Park Service leadership is doing a
disservice to the public, policymakers and to U.S. Park Police officers by insisting
that more resources are not needed.”

By way of comparison, the U.S. Capitol Police, which is responsible for the
11 square block area surrounding the Capitol, has 1278 sworn officers, more
than double the force of the U.S. Park Police, which has foot, mounted, marine
and air patrols responsible for the National Mall, the Statute of Liberty, the
Golden Gate Bridge area, the Camp David perimeter, dozens of D.C. area parks
and five parkways.

Chief Pettiford’s ceremony is scheduled to last from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00
p.m. on Tuesday, May 3rd in historic Ford’s Theatre. All U.S. Park Police
personnel are invited to attend; however, on-duty personnel must have prior
supervisory approval.

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Look
at U.S. Park Police staffing from 1994-2003

See
the 2000 Report to Congress on Park Police patrol needs

View
the invitations for Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony for Dwight Pettiford

See the U.S. Park Police
web home page crawl on “Honor, Service and Integrity”

Follow
the development of the Teresa Chamber case

and
HonestChief.com