U. S. PARK POLICE FORCE IN DISARRAY?
Several years ago, when former U. S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers
had the courage and wherewithal to stand up and speak out about the staffing shortages the department was facing, she was rewarded with dismissal from her job. Vocalizing her concerns and telling the truth was considered a “no-no” by political forces and high-level bureaucrats who obviously were lacking a critical knowledge base concerning the issues
Ms. Chambers astutely recognized at the time. Her predictions have now materialized and become a reality.
Crime has increased on the mall. Recent armed
robberies and sexual assaults have created new victims of crime in an area where crimes of this nature could have been prevented if Ms. Chambers words of wisdom had
been heeded at the time. The fact of the matter is there are not enough officers available to patrol the mall. Staffing shortages have created a problem that is getting public attention due to the prevalent rise in
crime. Though U. S. Park Police spokesman, Scott Fear, states, “…we believe the mall is safe,” the crux of the issue remains clear—the mall is not safe, it is inadequately patrolled, and there is a staffing shortage that cannot be solved over night.
Even Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D)
who, historically, has not been sympathetic to police concerns or issues is opining on the problem. Perhaps because of the public outcry, she is stepping up to the plate to make herself look good or perhaps she has finally gotten the message and is beginning to understand the criticality of the situation.
Ms. Norton suggests the U. S. Capitol Police be utilized to assist the U. S. Park Police
at the mall. Initially, Acting Chief Larry Thompson disagreed with this proposal, and the agency was not amenable to lending their officers for assistance. Retired U. S. Capitol Police Chief, Terrance W. Gainer, supports the idea and if he were currently in command, he would be doing all he could to help alleviate the crisis at
always understood the significance of cooperation and collaboration among law enforcement agencies. Ultimately, with the behind the scenes and back door strategies of political maneuvering, with the surprising support of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the
U. S. Capitol Police finally entered into an agreement to assist in patrolling the mall.
In more ways than one, the U. S. Park Police
agency is obviously in disarray. It is a pathetic fact that there was no money left in the budget to feed the horses in the horse- mounted unit. Consequently, the Fraternal Order of Police
came to the aid of the horses and generously paid for the feed so they could eat.
The United States Park Police
has always been a well-respected law enforcement agency. When Teresa Chambers
was unjustly fired for flimsy and illegitimate reasons, the agency’s reputation was transformed and took a turn for the extreme worse. Time has proven that Chambers had it right from the start.
Copyright 2006 Karen L. Bune
***Karen L. Bune is a Victim Specialist in the State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department
of Criminal Justice at George Mason University where she teaches victimology.
Ms. Bune is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant on victim issues. She is Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and is a Diplomate and Fellow of the Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She can be reached at email@example.com
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