7 REASONS WHY THE U.S. PARK POLICE IS UNDERSTAFFED BY THE NPS

1.  Paying for and then ignoring a 1999 officer staffing study

In 1999, the consulting firm Booz, Allen & Hamilton (Booz-Allen) conducted the most recent independent staffing study that determined that the United States Park Police (USPP) needed 820 officers. Currently, the USPP does not have anywhere near 820 officers.

2.  Ignoring the recommendations of law enforcement professionals

In a December 3, 2003, article in the Washington Post, entitled, “Park Police Duties Exceed Staffing; Anti-Terror Demands Have Led Chief to Curtail Patrols Away From Mall”, Former USPP Chief Teresa Chambers is cited as stating, “In the long run, Chambers said, her 620-member department needs a major expansion, perhaps to about 1,400 officers.” If Chief Chambers estimate is off by 50%, the number of officers needed by the USPP is 700. Which is more officers than the 639 officers the NPS, has for decades claimed is sufficient for safe and effective USPP operations.

3.  Ignoring a 41% increase in NPS DC area visitation since 1990

Visitation increased 41% in the National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Region (Washington, DC Metropolitan Area), between 1990 and 2015. According to NPS records during that 25-year period, visits rose from 33 million to 56 million.  (Source: NPS Records) No corresponding increase in USPP officers.

4.  Ignoring a 43% growth in DC Area population since 1990

The Washington-Baltimore-Arlington Metropolitan Area population increased 43% between 1990 and 2017. The population grew from 6.7 million to 9.6 million. (Source: US Census) No corresponding increase in USPP officers.

5.  Ignoring a 36% increase in traffic on NPS roads in the DC area

For example, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) was 74,600 vehicles a day in 1993 and was 117,000 vehicles a day in 2013. This represents a 36% increase in traffic volume from 1993 to 2013. (Source: NPS Records) No corresponding increase in USPP officers.

6.  Addition of facilities that generate increased visitation without an increase in staffing

Since 9/11/2001 the USPP has additional facilities to cover with no increase in staffing:

  • WWII Memorial
  • MLK Memorial
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
  • Georgetown Waterfront

7.  Disregard of increased threat

Since, Booz-Allen completed their 1999 staffing analysis the threats facing United States National Security have increased significantly. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States the USCP and the USSS-UD increased their number of officers by about 33%. They did this because there was a demonstrated need to harden their facilities from attack.  In contrast, the number of USPP officers has remained stagnant. The force is essentially the same size it was in 1999. The NPS hasn’t permitted the USPP to hire the 820 officers Booz-Allen determined were needed to operate safely and effectively in 1999.

This is a problem because the White House and the U. S. Capitol have been significantly hardened from attack by the addition of personnel, technology, enhanced security procedures and security barriers. The hardening of these facilities puts the surrounding areas under USPP control at increased risk. Terrorists will look for easier targets nearby. This is supported by the trend of recent attacks toward entertainment venues, nightlife areas, shopping centers, cultural centers and public events and the propaganda of terrorist organizations.

Conclusions

The USPP needs more personnel for response forces, bomb detection canine units, patrol, crime patrol units, investigative operations and intelligence operations. The USPP needs at least 1000 officers to staff an effective dedicated response force and be able to effectively perform all other aspects of its mission. The 1999 Booz-Allen report was correct. However, in 2017 given the previously cited evidence and the experiences of the last 14 years, at least 180 additional officers over their 1999 determination is essential.

The public’s reasonable expectation is that the USPP is able to effectively respond to critical incidents. The reality is that there isn’t enough people and equipment to do the job. Common sense and experience have demonstrated that most of the casualties caused by terrorists occur in the first few minutes of their attack. In the event, of an incident like an active shooter, a bombing or a Orlando/Mumbai/Paris style attack the inadequacy of the USPP’s response will result in unnecessary loss of life.

Attacks like this would damage our National Security and undermine confidence in the government. Should an attack continue for many hours on the National Mall, that damage, and more importantly the loss of life would be significantly increased.

We cannot safely ignore the fact that these types of attacks are possible, because they have occurred in Europe and the United States. Our enemies have repeatedly threatened to carry out more attacks here. It is essential that the USPP have a properly equipped and sized response force capable of swiftly ending any attack, and successfully treating any casualties all day, every day.

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