Teresa Chambers to become Park Police chief again Jan. 31

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011; 6:43 PM

Chief Teresa C. Chambers, who was ousted as U.S. Park Police chief, will officially resume her duties Jan. 31, the Interior Department said Friday.

Chambers, 53, is returning almost seven years after the Bush administration fired her for warning that staff shortages could lead to safety hazards at Washington area national parks and monuments.

In a 2003 interview with The Washington Post, Chambers warned that her police force was underfunded and overstretched. National Park Service officials charged that she provided an "open invitation to lawbreakers" by discussing the agency's potential vulnerabilities, and the Interior Department subsequently fired her in July 2004.

Citing weak evidence against her, the Merit Systems Protection Board this month ordered her reinstatement and ruled that she is entitled to about $2 million in retroactive pay and reimbursement for legal fees.

Current Park Police Chief Sal Lauro will step down and serve as a senior adviser to the Interior Department's law enforcement, security and emergency management office, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday in a statement.

"Chief Lauro has led the Park Police on a positive and ambitious agenda over the last two years, and I look forward to Teresa Chambers continuing to advance that agenda," Salazar said.

Lauro joined the Park Police in 1978 and previously led the agency's Central District, with responsibility for the Mall and its Special Forces branch.

Chambers said it was "a tremendous honor" to return to her former police agency. She has most recently served as chief of police in Riverdale.

The Park Police is based primarily in Washington, with responsibility for the Mall and for the Rock Creek, Baltimore-Washington and George Washington parkways. It also provides protection for New York's Liberty Island and San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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