Washington, DC -- A Deputy Chief of the U.S. Park Police was forced to resign this past Friday, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The abrupt departure of Deputy Chief Barry Beam caps a tumultuous year of leadership turnover at the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement organization.
Beam was given a proposed termination this past Wednesday following an investigation concerning an incident involving a Park Police marine escort in New York Harbor for a cruise ship carrying Beam and his wife on a vacation trip. Beam was charged with misuse of government resources in the incident and lack of candor in the investigation. He was placed on administrative leave, stripped of his badge and gun and driven home. Rather than contest the charges, Beam resigned this Friday.
Beam had been Deputy Chief of the Park Police for 27 months following more than 25 years with the Prince George's County (Maryland) Police Department. He began his service under then-Chief Teresa Chambers, who was placed on administrative leave approximately 10 months ago following a published interview with the Washington Post in which Chief Chambers conceded staffing and budget shortfalls. As with Chief Chambers, Deputy Park Service Director Donald Murphy, a political appointee, played a pivotal role in Beam's removal.
"This looks more like a Stalinist purge than a professional police force," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization is leading the legal defense for Teresa Chambers, whose case is awaiting decision before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. "As with Chief Chambers, the Park Service appears ready to seize on any pretext to remove those suspected of insufficient political loyalty."
During the past year, the U.S. Park Police has had three different chiefs. At the same time, outside reviews have found that the U.S. Park Police lacks the resources to fulfill the additional responsibilities assigned to it since September 11, 2001. Prior to her departure, Chief Chambers warned about rising dangers to park visitors, parkway commuters and the national icons in Washington, DC
According to employee sources, the investigation of the Beam cruise ship incident resulted from a report from inside the Park Police to the Interior Office of Inspector General.
"The snipers are winning," added Ruch referring to holdover Park Police staff resentful of Chambers' appointment, as an outsider and first female chief of a force created by George Washington. Anonymous harassment of Chambers and her leadership team included pepper spraying an office door, breaking into office computers, scattering nails under car tires and placing used condoms around assigned vehicles.
"Chief Teresa Chambers was recruited to bring the U.S. Park Police into the 21st Century but she was not allowed to do her job," concluded Ruch, decrying the current "management merry-go-round" at the Park Police. "Now the Park Service and Department of Interior political leadership seems determined to get rid of anyone associated with Chief Chambers regardless of the effect on the force and its mission."