Following a family tradition: 3 generations of US Park Police officers

Serving with the U.S. Park Police is a family affair for the Cunningham family.

When Officer Christopher Cunningham was awarded his badge Friday at a graduation ceremony in Southeast, D.C., his father pinned it on him.

From left, U.S. Park Police Chief Robert D. MacLean looks on as Capt. Chris Cunningham pins a badge on son Officer Christopher Cunningham. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Earlier in the ceremony, when Officer Cunningham’s father, Chris Cunningham, was awarded a promotion to captain, Chris’ father, retired U.S. Park Police Maj. Bruce Cunningham, pinned the captain’s badge on him.

“It all started in Long Island, New York, when I was looking for a permanent job and I wound up taking the U.S. Park Police exam. I got hired. My son followed suit, my grandson followed suit,” Bruce said.

Bruce is used to pinning a badge on his son.

“I’ve done that before — lieutenant and sergeant — he’s pinned badges on me, also, when we were both active (duty),” Bruce said.

Capt. Cunningham said it’s an honor and privilege. “I think this may be the first time that we’ve had a third generation trifecta of the same living family to do this feat.”

Officer Cunningham knows he has big shoes to fill. “It’s an honor having my dad to be able to pin me and my grandfather to be able to fly out and be here for this. It’s a highly respected family, and I hope to continue the legacy.”

Officer Cunningham said hopes to make it a career job like his grandfather, and he joked about maybe surpassing his dad to achieve the rank of major.

“It’s pretty amazing to have three generations in the park police family, it really is,” Major Cunningham said. “I’m proud to see this and be a part of it.”

cunningham family
Three generations of the Cunningham family have worked for the U.S. Park Police. (WTOP/Kristi King)

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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