State Watch

Union presses Park Police chief on staffing levels

(File: Getty)

A labor union representing United States Park Police officers sent a letter urging for more changes involving staffing levels within the department amid incidents occurring in the Washington, D.C., area over the holiday weekend. 

In a letter sent on Thursday, the United States Park Police Fraternal Order of Police told acting Park Police Chief Christopher Stock that the department has fewer members than it did nearly 50 years ago and continues to lose more members every week due to the ongoing issues.

The union also demanded changes to their yearly salary, recruitment incentives and retention efforts as well.

“With an annual attrition rate of approximately 35 officers per year, hiring 75 officers next fiscal year will do almost nothing to help,” the letter reads. “Radical changes to our pay, recruitment incentives, and retention efforts must happen NOW.” 

The letter noted several incidents over the weekend where responding officers were unable to make proper safety adjustments due to ongoing inclement weather, which caused flooding, downed trees, trapped motorists and motor vehicle crashes in the area. 

One incident in particular involved a U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer sustaining injuries after being rear-ended by an oncoming vehicle while assisting Park Police with a separate accident. In another incident, a Park Police officer sustained a serious head injury when an incoming vehicle struck his patrol car while waiting on a tow service for a disabled vehicle.

“The continued reckless neglect by the Department of Interior and the National Park Service has reached crisis levels. Residents and visitors to the Washington Metropolitan Area are at a serious safety risk while on Park Service property,” the union wrote to Stock in its letter. “The fact that management from all levels has stood by idly without making any changes to their leadership tactics baffles me.” 

The union then urged Stock to use his leadership to combat this issue, asking him to hold the National Park Service accountable for years of neglect and implement new changes to make sure department officers and the public are safe. 

“The Union should not be alone in efforts to make USPP the best Federal Law Enforcement agency it once was. Give us the tools and the staffing we need to effectively carry out our mission,” the letter concluded. “Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.”

Tags labor unions police labor unions The United States Park Police Fraternal Order of Police United States Park Police Washington D.C.

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