Policing Capital Sites

Policing Capital Sites: Improving Coordination, Training and Equipment 


July 21, 2006

Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you at this oversight hearing regarding the Policing of Capital Sites. You have asked us to cover three areas during our testimony today. They include (1) training and technologies used to secure and protect Federal facilities, (2) coordination of security efforts within and among agencies to improve or enhance site security, and (3) impediments that make it difficult to maintain and increase security at Federal facilities. 

The United States Park Police (Force) has provided law enforcement services on the public lands of our Nation’s Capital for over two hundred years. In 1882, the Force was granted the same police authority as the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia (MPDC). We have a long record of working with the MPDC to provide a safe environment for the citizens of the District and for visitors from around the world who come to the national park lands in and around our Nation’s Capital. 

Currently, there are 605 sworn members in the U.S. Park Police who serve in our Nation’s Capital, at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio in San Francisco, and at the Statue of Liberty and the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Administration requested $2.8 million to bring the Force up to 639 members. After September 11, 2001, the Force reconfigured its deployments to meet the increased threat of international terrorism here in the United States. In the Metropolitan Washington area, the Force patrols over 24,000 acres of urban parklands, including high profile areas such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse. The National Mall is patrolled from the Capitol Reflecting Pool to the Potomac River. 

Our motorcycle and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) officers are an integral part of the escort services provided to both the President and Vice President. In addition, we patrol over seventy miles of Federal parkways leading into and through our Nation’s Capital. These include the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the Clara Barton Parkway, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Rock Creek Parkway, and the Suitland Parkway. These parkways border significant facilities such as Fort Meade, the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In all, there are over seven hundred Federal reservations patrolled by the Force in the District of Columbia ranging from large areas such as Rock Creek Park to small neighborhood parks. 

As a full-service police department, the Force is responsible for anti-terrorism patrols, prevention and detection of crimes ranging from homicide to drunk driving to quality of life crimes, and the performance of other law enforcement and visitor services. Our criminal investigators and detectives have done an outstanding job in successfully closing felony crimes which occur on Federal park land and occasionally in other areas. For example, two weeks ago they provided invaluable assistance in the recovery of the Veteran’s Administration laptop computer that contained the personal data of millions of U.S. Military Veterans. 

Our Horse Mounted Patrols are recognized as some of the best in the world. They are

exceptionally valuable in providing crowd control during the thousands of special events held annually in our Nation’s Capital. Most of these events are very orderly and easily policed; others, due to their sheer size, present significant logistical challenges. And there are others that result in a significant number of arrests. Our Special Forces Branch is well known for its work at high-profile special events. These events include major protests and demonstrations, large events like the Fourth of July Celebration on the National Mall, and one-time events such as the dedication of the WWII Memorial. The Force coordinates with and requests assistance from other local agencies for management of these large events. It has become very adept at forging partnerships with state and local officers. Without the assistance from these other local agencies, we could not maintain as safe an environment for the public as we currently provide. 

Training: Our officers attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and have done so since its founding in 1974. Our new officers attend basic police school for twenty-three weeks. They also receive five additional weeks training here in Washington, D.C. prior to beginning twelve weeks of Field Training Instruction (FTI) with a senior officer, almost ten months of training prior to performing independent patrol. We have recently trained approximately 300 civilian members of the National Park Service (NPS), park contractors, and concession employees in the “Cat Eyes Program.” This program encourages employees to be the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement, constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity. In the last year, over sixty of our supervisory employees have engaged in table-top exercises presented by the Force, which simulate terrorist attacks and other violent crimes. Other supervisors have been involved in table-top and other exercises involving many of our Federal and local partners. 

Coordination: Within the Metropolitan Washington area all Force operational commanders meet at least three times a week to discuss issues of concern such as emerging crime patterns, potential terrorist threats, and special events. The Force routinely coordinates with park superintendents and makes recommendations for additional security measures, as necessary. In the downtown area, additional security enhancements reflect the need to provide increased protection for the historical features of our monuments and memorials as well as the safety of the visitors while still maintaining an open and inviting atmosphere to the public. 

We have sworn members deployed to serve with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to keep us apprised of any developments regarding potential terrorist activity. Likewise, when an officer handles an incident with a potential terrorism link, this information is immediately forwarded to the JTTF through our representatives. We also have a member detailed to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC), and during large special events or emergencies, we participate in Joint Operations. Our officials routinely meet with representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to coordinate operations and disseminate information of mutual concern. We are part of the regularly scheduled conference calls among all area police chiefs, where intelligence from municipal, county, state and Federal government agencies is shared. In addition, the Force currently has 65 memorandums of understanding with other agencies to provide for mutual aid and share resources and technology. 

Technology: Our Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV) consists of video and digital

cameras at key locations around the monuments and memorials. These are monitored from a central console, staffed at all times. This capability has allowed us to rapidly and accurately dispatch officers to emergencies and to view reports of suspicious activity from a distance. It also has allowed us to catch criminals in the act. At the Washington Monument and the White House Visitor Center, visitors are screened with a magnetometer, and their belongings go through an x-ray machine. We have enhanced visitor safety at both the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument through the use of technology and the construction of the new vehicle barrier walls and retractable bollards around the Washington Monument. Deployment of explosive detection canine teams also has been increased in the downtown area. Portable devices have been deployed in and around the Monumental Core in order to detect levels of radiation that might be associated with a dirty bomb or a nuclear device. Air sample stations are set up at several key locations on NPS lands to test for biological and chemical agents. 

Our Information and Technology Unit has provided officers with a limited number of mobile video cameras, mobile data terminals and hand-held Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) with access to criminal justice data bases. We are in the process of replacing our 1970’s era radio system both here and in New York, partnering with other Federal entities for a jointly managed radio system. In addition, we are participating with all other Department of Interior law enforcement agencies in development of an Incident Management and Analysis Recording System (IMARS) to provide an automated reporting system for Federal law enforcement officers serving on Federal lands across the nation. 

It is always a challenge to provide open access to our icons and public spaces while maintaining a secure environment. For years the Force has deployed significant resources in the fight against terrorism. After September 11, 2001, the Force underwent a significant redeployment of sworn officers to augment icon protection and other anti-terrorism security needs. In order to use the public funds as efficiently as possible, the Force has incorporated the use of security guards at the icons in Washington, D.C. and at the Statue of Liberty to augment our police personnel in performing non-law enforcement security functions. 

We recognize that a visible presence by the Force is required to ensure an appropriate level of safety and security on the National Mall and other park areas. The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007 requests additional funds to bolster the presence of the Force on the National Mall to reflect this need for increased patrol. These additional officers, if approved, will increase the likelihood of intercepting potential terrorists and other threats and crimes aimed at the icons and their visitors. In spite of the redeployment, reprioritization, and other actions resulting from the events of 9/11, we continue to perform our responsibilities and duties to accomplish our primary missions as safely and effectively as possible.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment. This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members might have.


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