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Press Release Published: Mar 15, 2022

Hice Launches Probe into Dire Conditions at the U.S. Park Police’s Dispatch Operations Center

The OIG recently released a report finding the dilapidated office puts safety at risk

WASHINGTON—Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice (R-Ga.) today opened a probe into the U.S. Park Police’s staffing shortages, training deficiencies, and dilapidated facilities at the dispatch operations center in Washington, D.C. In a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Ranking Member Hice requests a member level briefing and all documents and communications related to the run-down conditions, safety concerns, and staffing shortages that are jeopardizing law enforcement officers and the public’s safety.   

“I write with serious concerns about the Department of Interior’s (DOI) management of the U.S. Park Police (USPP) in light of recent reports of staffing shortages, training deficiencies, and dilapidated facilities. Our USPP officers and the public they serve deserve engaged and competent leadership from DOI. But the poor conditions our USPP officers confront combined with these longstanding staffing challenges reveal the USPP is in a serious state of neglect,” wrote Hice.

The USPP operates within the National Park Service to provide critical law enforcement services throughout the national park system. A recent management advisory issued by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of the Interior (OIG) found significant safety concerns at the USPP’s dispatch operations center, including black mold located throughout the workspace, holes in the roof allowing water and bird droppings through, and the failure to respond to audible alarms and emergency signals. The OIG also found the dispatch center faces severe staffing shortages and training deficiencies. 

“Based on my conversations with frontline USPP officers, I am well aware that First Amendment demonstrations, threats, civil disturbances, and the growing number of monuments have increased demands on the USPP in recent years even though its budget has remained constant. As a result of inadequate staffing, officers have long reported working extended shifts, and overtime is frequently used which creates a safety concern for officers. Despite their critical mission, I fear they have not been prioritized by DOI leadership for several years, leading to acute staffing shortages and safety concerns,” continued Hice. “The USPP deserves competent management and appropriate resources from DOI and NPS.”

In June 2021, Subcommittee Ranking Member Hice introduced the U.S. Park Police Modernization Act (H.R. 3924) to update pay and benefits for the USPP to resemble other area law enforcement. The goal of the legislation is to increase retention rates and provide incentives for more individuals to pursue positions with the Park Police.

 The letter to Secretary Haaland can be found here.