Washington, DC – Following last week's appeal of the charges and proposed discipline with the Merit Systems Protection Board, U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers took the second step today and filed a request with an administrative judge seeking immediate return to her job. Her request also sought the lifting of a gag order that has limited her ability to communicate with the public, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Pursuant to the Merit System Protection Board's regulations, it is expected that Administrative Judge, Elizabeth B. Bogle, will receive evidence and arguments from both sides and rule on Chief Chambers' request within ten working days.
Presented to the administrative judge will be a detailed affidavit from Chief Chambers with attachments demonstrating the retaliatory nature of the Department of Interior's actions against her to date. The affidavit reveals that Chief Chambers made numerous disclosures to try to improve the effectiveness of the U.S. Park Police and ensure protection of the nation's important monuments and visitors.
"Chief Chambers courageously attempted to move the Park Police in a direction that was consistent with the current Administration's rhetoric about homeland security," said Mick Harrison, a noted whistleblower attorney who recently joined Chambers' legal defense team. "The Chief's disclosures to the media, Congress and Interior officials that the Administration's budget and staffing limitations were preventing the Park Police from adequately protecting public safety and national treasures prompted the National Park Service to issue a gag order and remove the Chief from her duties. If Interior chooses to litigate the case, these issues will be on the front burner."
On December 5, 2003, National Park Service Deputy Director Don Murphy placed Chief Chambers on paid administrative leave shortly after The Washington Post published an interview with the Chief in which she confirmed concerns about budget and staffing shortfalls. At that time, Chief Chambers was stripped of her badge, sidearm and law enforcement credentials, ordered not to grant interviews and given an armed escort out of the Interior building.
According to Richard Condit, PEER's General Counsel who is also a prominent whistleblower attorney, Chief Chambers was an important part of a reform effort that included dedicated officers of the United States Park Police and their Union, focused on meeting the nation's needs for improved homeland security. "Putting Chief Chambers back on the job is the best way to protect the public and our national monuments."
Read the Chambers' affidavit