Washington, DC -- National Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers has filed a formal response to allegations by Deputy Parks Director Donald Murphy who is seeking her termination. Chief Chambers provides a point-by-point rebuttal to charges by Murphy concerning her interview with The Washington Post and communications with Congress, according to the filing posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
In addition to charges about her disclosures, Murphy also alleged three acts of insubordination by Chief Chambers in separate incidents dating back to March.
"These charges against Chief Chambers do not pass the laugh test -- they are factually incorrect, legally indefensible and incredibly petty, all at the same time," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch whose organization has joined the legal team seeking her reinstatement. "A breakdown in the Park Service leadership has needlessly created a confrontation where consultation is in order."
The Washington Post published an article on December 2, 2003 quoting Chief Chambers concerning staffing needs of the Park Police. On December 5, Murphy ordered Chief Chambers to surrender her badge, gun and law enforcement credentials. She was placed on administrative leave and prohibited from speaking any further with the media. On December 17, Murphy proposed to terminate Chief Chambers on the grounds of alleged misconduct. The response to the proposed termination filed by Chief Chambers' counsel, Peter Noone of the Belmont Massachusetts firm of Avery, Dooley, Post & Avery, points out numerous factual inaccuracies and inconsistencies in Murphy's allegations. Her response also invokes multiple legal defenses for her statements to Congress and the media, which are protected by law.
This response has been submitted to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior Paul Hoffman, who is the designated "deciding official" even though the case involves actions by his superior, Deputy Secretary Steven Griles. Hoffman is charged with making the decision whether to reinstate Chief Chambers, terminate her or take some other, middle course. Chief Chambers can appeal Hoffman's decision, if it is adverse, through both administrative and judicial avenues.
"From the sequence of events it is clear that the root cause of this affair is a mid-level bureaucrat, Don Murphy, who is a control freak gone out of control," Ruch commented. "As this filing indicates, it is Mr. Murphy who acted in a manner detrimental to the Park Service, its employees and the public its serves."
In February 2002 Chambers, a career law enforcement professional, was appointed the first female chief of the U.S. Park Police, the oldest uniformed federal police force. Its 620-officer force is responsible for national landmarks ranging from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bulk of its work is in the Capitol where Park Police patrol the National Mall, monuments, and federal parks and parkways.
Read the charges against Chief Chambers