On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, the USPPFOP submitted testimony to the United States Department of the Interior Law Enforcement Task Force. The document that was submitted can be viewed below. Click on any page image of the document to view the PDF file.
While this testimony was submitted as a document from the Fraternal Order of Police- United States Park Police Labor Committee, for some reason, the document was listed on the regulations.gov site as, “Comment from Kenneth Spencer.” The “Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks” (CTPANP), a non-profit organization made up of mostly rangers, also had its comments listed as coming from an individual- Goto: “Comment from Michael B. Murray” to view their submission. The CTPANP is rightfully concerned about the NPS understaffing of its law enforcement ranger ranks. As they have maintained for many years, they are firmly against the idea of separating the law enforcement chain of command from the current NPS hierarchy- where Park Superintendents rule their parks with wide-ranging discretion. CTPANP refers to having a separate law enforcement command structure as “Stovepiping.” We will be addressing that topic in a future article.
Another organization, PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), had its comment listed as, “Comment from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).” The testimony from PEER concerns all law enforcement organizations within the DOI but addresses U. S. Park Police issues. PEER agrees that the USPP is severely understaffed and that the operational readiness of DOI Law Enforcement presents significant safety concerns. The comment period for this task force closed on August 2, 2022.
The testimony of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to the DOI Law Enforcement Task Force plainly states that there are serious problems with the Department’s Law Enforcement Programs. A snippet:
“Thus, between its cadre of national park rangers and USPP, NPS has a substantial law enforcement force that has lacked experienced professional leadership for the better part of two decades. This lack of consistent direction handicaps improving law enforcement supervision or performance. “
We encourage everyone to read and share this information.
NOTE: Click on any of the page images, and you will open the Documents PDF
Pretty much every USPP shift is short of minimum staffing. Saturday evening around 8:00 p.m. (July 17, 2022) in the United States Park Police East District in Washington, DC, there was a reported stabbing on the Suitland Parkway. Evidently, someone stabbed someone else in a vehicle traveling on the parkway. The stabbing aftermath caused the vehicle to crash.(Update: Two vehicles had been involved in a crash and the operators got into a fight during which one of them was stabbed.) Responding units from D-5 had to deal with the crime scene investigation, the arrest of the stabber, and transporting the victim to the hospital. This incident tied up all the units in D-5. There were only two units in D-4, and they were busy responding to multiple calls. (Addition: There were only two units in D-5 (Car 511 & Car 512), and they were being supervised by a Sergeant from another District.)
Around the same time, Central District Officers responded to an assault on Haines Point. An injured suspect was transported to a hospital. To guard this suspect required that an officer protecting one of the monuments be reassigned, degrading the monument’s security.
Around 9:30 p.m., a call for a shooting on Anacostia Drive went out with no D-5 units available to respond. Car 111 responded to the scene and reported a fatality with an extensive crime scene. The DC Metropolitan Police were called to investigate. All the East Districts’ (D-4 and D-5) units were tied up, and calls for them were backing up. The Shift Commander had two D-1 sergeants respond to assist Car 111.
Sometime during this time period, a call went out to have off-duty units with home-to-work vehicles come in to assist. Unfortunately, the two East District privates with vehicles were out of the area on approved extended leave.
Thankfully, two lieutenants with home-to-work vehicles stepped up and responded in to handle calls in District 5 until things settled down. The USPPFOP is thankful for these officials who clearly care deeply for the safety of the public and their officers.
Ignoring reality will no longer be tolerated. The U. S. Park Police is dangerously understaffed. The evidence confirming this truth is vast and spans decades. (See Evidence) We will not sit back and step lightly around topics that may upset our bosses. We will continue taking steps to ensure the USPP gets the staffing and equipment required for safe and effective law enforcement operations. We will continue aggressively spreading the truth about the USPP’s unsafe operational readiness. Hoping things get better and complaining to each other won’t accomplish a thing. Hope alone is far too frail a vessel to place the safety of park visitors and officers.
The following image is a link to a Timeline containing evidence of the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) reckless neglect of the United States Park Police’s (USPP) operational readiness:
A quick review the Timeline will reveal that understaffing and under-equipping the USPP is nothing new. They have been persistent problems for over three decades. The Timeline is a work in progress – we will add evidence as it becomes available.
We also invite you to read the following reprint of an article from our April 2013 Newsletter, which is included in the Timeline. This article details the NPS’s dereliction of its responsibility to operate a safe and effective law enforcement program over the last three decades.