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.
On March 2, 2022, Rep. Norton wrote the U. S. Park Police (USPP) requesting they expand the Force’s Home-to-Work (HTWVP) vehicle program. Rep. Norton did this because she is aware that:
Currently the USPP has fewer Officers than it had in 1975.
That this dangerously low staffing severely limits the Force’s ability to swiftly and effectively respond to critical incidents. (e.g., Riots, Terrorist Attacks, Active Shooters, Crash Investigations, etc.)
Swift and effective responses offer the best chance to mitigate the consequences of critical incidents.
Providing every USPP officer with a Home-to-Work vehicle would permit them to respond directly from home to the scene of a critical incident. This would greatly speed the response because officers would not have to stop to gear up at the stations. This is vital as the USPP has for some time lacked sufficient on-duty officers to respond effectively to critical incidents.
Rep. Norton asked for the USPP to respond by March 16, 2022. On May 13, 2022, the USPP was finally able to provide a one page reply.
In the portion of the USPP letter concerning Home-to-Work Vehicles Chief Stock stated:
“The use of government vehicles is controlled by several laws and regulations to ensure the best use of any taxpayer dollars and government property. In addition to ensuring that any decisions we make regarding government vehicles meets the letter and spirit of the law, we must ensure we are making fiscally responsible and sustainable decisions with our funding.”
Notice how Chief Stock avoids mentioning or discussing how the USPP and many other Federal agencies already justify and provide vehicles to their officers.
The next paragraph of the USPP letter concerns staffing. Chief Stock states:
” We appreciate your strong interest in how the USPP responds to emergencies in the District of Columbia and can assure you we are prepared for these events. We have regularly scheduled coordination meetings with Federal, state, and local partner agencies to ensure the residents and visitors in the National Capital Region are protected.”
In this paragraph Chief Stock dismisses the mountain of evidence supporting the assertion that the USPP is Dangerously Understaffed. The NPS and the USPP’s reliance on “partner” agencies to save the day won’t work too well if our “partners” have their own problems on that day. Every day the USPP remains severely understaffed is a risky gamble with people’s lives. History has repeatedly demonstrated that having effective response forces, that are properly equipped saves lives. The ability to swiftly respond, quickly end the threat and immediately start treating casualties is critical.
NOTE: These two letters can be viewed further down on this page.
Here is a timeline that provides detailed evidence of the NPS Neglect of the USPP’s Mission going back to about 1995: