The U.S. Park Police have failed to protect such national landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and are plagued by low morale, poor leadership, and bad organization, says an Interior Department inspector general’s report quoted by the Washington Post. The force is understaffed, insufficiently trained, and woefully equipped, says the report. Historic sites on the National Mall are weakly guarded and vulnerable to terrorist attack.
The report includes a photograph of an officer sleeping in a patrol vehicle at the Jefferson Memorial. It describes a Park Police officer doing a crossword puzzle. It recounts someone leaving a suitcase against a wall of the Washington Monument, where it sat unattended for five minutes until its owner reclaimed it. Park Police Chief Dwight Pettiford is singled out for criticism, and one of the report’s 20 recommendations is that the National Park Service examine whether he is “equipped to effectively advance the mission and operations of the agency.” Pettiford told the Post that has essentially done the best with what he has. Asked about the accusation that the monuments were not protected, he declared: “They’re still standing.”