NPS Park Police Chief to be reinstated 8 years after being fired

Teresa Chambers
Teresa Chambers

Teresa C. Chambers could be back at work as Chief of the National Park Service’s Park Police after the Merit Systems Protection Board on Tuesday ordered that she be reinstated within 20 days. She was fired by the Bush administration in 2003 after telling a newspaper, among other things, that accidents had increased along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway because two, rather than the recommended four, officers were on patrol.

The Park Police, created in 1791, has the primary responsibility for protecting some of the federal land, especially monuments and other sites, in the Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco areas.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Washington Post:

Teresa C. Chambers, the former chief of the U.S. Park Police who was removed in 2003 for voicing concerns about staffing shortages, could be back on the job next month after federal officials ordered her reinstatement Tuesday citing a lack of evidence.

Chambers was suspended and later fired after telling The Washington Post in December 2003 that traffic accidents had increased along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway because two, rather than the recommended four, officers were on patrol. The police agency also lacked enough officers to protect national parkland, Chambers said at the time, adding that unarmed guards would protect some national monuments.

Citing weak evidence against her, the Merit Systems Protection Board ordered the Park Police Tuesday to reinstate Chambers within 20 days. She is also entitled to retroactive pay starting from July 2004, as well as the reimbursement for legal fees.

The decision caps almost eight years of legal efforts by Chambers, who currently serves as chief of police in Riverdale, Md. She was stunned by the decision, she said Tuesday.

“The goal from the start was to return to the job that I loved, the job I competed for and was hired for, and to make sure justice prevailed, not just for me,” Chambers said in an interview. “This is precedent-setting for other civil servants, other federal employees. One of the questions has been can a federal employee be fired for telling the truth, and this case will lay the groundwork for the future.”

The Bush administration had removed her on the basis of six charges, two of which were later dismissed by an administrative judge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed another charge last April and the MSPB dismissed the others Tuesday.

Her attorney, Paula Dinerstein of the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, called the decision “a wonderful ruling, not only for Chief Chambers but for thousands who believe that honesty is part of public service.” PEER represents local, state and federal park employees and government scientists.

The National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police, is reviewing the ruling and had no comment Tuesday, according to spokesman David Barna.

Here is a link to a question and answer session with Chambers, in which she says she was “puzzled” and “disappointed” that the Obama administration continued to fight her reinstatement.

Thanks Dick.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “NPS Park Police Chief to be reinstated 8 years after being fired”

  1. I suspect the reason the Obama administration kept up the fight against Chief Chambers was simple. Obama has been very slow to purge W. Bush appointees out of Interior and other agencies. Many key posts are still held by Bush folks and with a weak Secretary of Interior, they kept up the old stuff of the Bush years.

  2. This has been a long sad story about someone who stood up and tried to do the right thing. Chief Chambers showed a great deal of courage in attempting to correctly run a law enforcement program. But she offended someone who was more concerned about political
    correctness and a few dollars saved then the safety of the public and the USPP officers.


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