Park Police chief speaks on body camera rollout, mute on Ghaisar investigation

Just a few months into her new job, the U.S. Park Police chief said she is committed to transparency in policing and rebuilding the public’s trust.

Chief Pamela Smith said the Park Police will end the year with all its officers wearing body cameras.

“This is one of my priorities that I wanted to ensure that we implemented within the first 90 days of my appointment,” Smith said.

When asked if the program was in response to calls for the Park Police to wear cameras following the 2017 shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, Smith called the case tragic.

“For me, public trust is paramount to the mission of the U.S. Park Police, such as use-of-force incidents. And by implementing this program, we will be able to offer greater transparency and accountability in these rare situations,” Smith said.

She didn’t comment on Virginia lawmakers’ recent request that the Justice Department reconsider its decision not to prosecute the two Park Police officers accused of fatally shooting Ghaisar.

The officers’ cases have moved to federal court, where attorneys plan to use the Supremacy Clause as a defense.

Another challenge facing the agency is one that many other law enforcement departments share: decreased staffing.

“We currently have an announcement on USA Jobs to hire entry-level police officers in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and also in New York, and that announcement closes on May 25. It is my hope that we will attract some candidates who are interested in becoming law enforcement officers within United States Park Police,” she said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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