U.S. Park Police officers are being forced by the Department of Homeland Security to stand guard around around major monuments in the Washington, D.C., area. Chief Teresa C. Chambers says the shift may mean declining safety in parks and on parkways, the Washington Post reports.
Traffic accidents have increased on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, a major thoroughfare that now often has two officers on patrol instead of the usual four. Residents are complaining that homeless people and drug dealers are again taking over smaller parks. “there’s not enough of us to go around to protect those green spaces anymore,” Chambers said.
Chambers said her 620-member department needs a major expansion perhaps to about 1,400 officers.
Congressional leaders have urged the Park Police to focus on the Mall, cutting back on drug investigations and traffic enforcement. The Park Police department, an arm of the Park Service, traces its roots to 1791. The force includes about 400 officers in the Washington area, with the rest split between New York and San Francisco.