The U.S. Park Police's Fraternal Order of Police sounded off a warning to the Biden administration Monday, saying federal parks in major U.S. markets aren't entirely safe for visitors this summer and fall, due to a staffing shortage.
In a letter to Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland, police union Chair Kenneth Spencer wrote, "Our agency is in crisis, the public who visit our parks are not safe, and our officers and potential recruits have little incentive to pursue a career with the USPP [United States Park Police]."
Spencer suggests the Department of Interior, which oversees U.S. federal parks, needs to reward veteran officers and entice new recruits with fresh signing bonuses — perhaps as high as $20,000.
"As [Washington D.C.] Mayor [Muriel] Bowser recognizes, 'hiring bonuses will help [Metro Police Department] recruit and hire more officers to keep [Washington] safe.' The same is certainly true with our agency and the three metropolitan areas that we patrol," Spencer wrote to Haaland, while referencing San Francisco, New York City, and the nation's capital.
According to its website, the U.S. Park Police was created by President George Washington in 1791. The police force functions as a unit of the National Park Service with jurisdiction in all federal parks.
U.S. Park Police officers are located in the Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas, and investigate and detain persons suspected of committing offenses against the United States. Officers also carry out services for many notable events conducted in the national parks.
By Spencer's estimate, Park Police has 639 positions set aside for the three markets, but just 509 of the slots have been filled.
Spencer also cited a study which determined the three major cities would need at least 800 park officers to be adequately staffed.
"No one enjoys saying it, but you and I both know that the thousands of families who visit the national parks in Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco every single day are not as safe as they should be because there are not enough officers on patrol to meet our mission," Spencer warned.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.