The United States Park Police is now going to be led by a Black woman. This is the first instance of its kind in the 230 years old history of the agency. Pamela A. Smith, a Black woman, was named to lead the Park Police.
Smith, at the age of 23, has taken charge of the office on Sunday.
For the past couple of years, the nation is in the grip of racial discrimination, especially in the police force. After massive protests in the country and even around the globe decrying police brutality against the minorities, the decision might bring some change.
First Black Woman Chief For US Park Police
Smith said in a statement that she is dedicated to her career in law enforcement. And with the new responsibility as the Chief of Police, she feels honored and privileged. She is proud to be a part of the profession.
She added that under the current circumstances, offices have to face several challenges. But she believes that these challenges bring forward some great opportunities as well. She said that she is all prepared and thrilled to lead this exemplary team. Together as a team, they will always carry out their jobs with integrity and honesty.
She said that she is planning to run a program that requires the Park police officers to wear body cameras to start with. The program will initiate from their field office in San Francisco. She added that they are expecting the program to be implemented throughout the country by the end of this year. All the police officer in the country will be seen wearing body cameras.
Smith clarified that this is one of the many programs and initiatives that the agency will continue in order to gain trust and credibility with the public. They should build faith in the public that they are entitled to serve.
Smith, however, did not commit to make the body camera footage public.
According to Smith, one can get access to the video footage through the proper channel. For example, to get any video footage, one needs to submit a request for the same through the Freedom of Information Act.
Afterward, the request will be processed systematically and in harmony with the existing laws and policies. This will also include the privacy act. The decision of whether to provide the footage or not will be taken when the due processing is over.
Two high-profile incidents in recent years involve some of the Park Police officers.
In one of these incidents, the Park Police department was under fire in the shooting case of Bijan Ghaisar that led to his death in Virginia.
On this account, Smith said that when the incident took place in 2017, she was serving as a Commander for the New York field office. She didn’t know much about the investigations into the case and that she hasn’t got any opportunity yet to be briefed about the case. She added that she will soon look at it on priority.
In June, the Park office was again in a bad spot when the officers cleared out protesters from Lafayette Square using violent means. D.C. National Guard troops were also involved in the case.
The protestors were shooed away violently just to allow then President Donald Trump to visit the St. John’s Church for a photo-op. He was seen holding a Bible in the photo. The police used smoke canisters and pepper balls to move the crowd.
According to Shawn Benge, deputy director for National Park Service said that Smith’s commitment to public service, and her ability to collaborate and listen, makes her the best choice to serve the office.
Park Police, the oldest law enforcement agency in the country, had created history by giving charge of the Chief office to a Black woman.