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Following Years-Long Oversight, Chair Grijalva Welcomes Announcement That U.S. Park Police Chief Will Require Body-Worn Cameras for Officers

02.25.21

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today hailed the announcement that incoming U.S. Park Police Chief Pamela Smith will require officers to wear body cameras as a means of enhancing accountability and increasing public trust in the agency. The issue was the centerpiece of a Sept. 29, 2020, hearing in the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations titled Police Cameras at the Department of the Interior: Inconsistencies, Failures, and Consequences.

Smith replaces acting chief Gregory Monahan, who testified on the issue during the full Committee’s June 1, 2020, hearing titled Unanswered Questions About the U.S. Park Police’s June 1 Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square. The U.S. Park Police’s conduct during the unwarranted and unprovoked Lafayette Square crackdown against peaceful protesters became a rallying cry in the growing campaign for more accountability for federal law enforcement agencies, including those under the purview of the Department of the Interior.

The Sept. 29 hearing featured testimony from Kelly Ghaisar, whose son Bijan was killed by U.S. Park Police officers now charged with manslaughter. She said at the hearing that mandatory body-worn cameras for U.S. Park Police and other agencies would heighten accountability for law enforcement and make future shootings of unarmed civilians less likely.

“Ms. Smith’s announcement didn’t come in a vacuum, and I’m proud of the role that Natural Resources Committee Democrats played in today’s news,” Grijalva said. “This is what serious oversight can accomplish. I’m looking forward to working with the Biden administration to further reform law enforcement culture and policies at the U.S. Park Police and other law enforcement units of the Department of the Interior.”

Grijalva thanked Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who represents the Ghaisar family in Congress, for bringing the issue to the Committee’s attention, playing a leading role in the September hearing and providing ongoing leadership on the issue.

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