Black Woman to Lead Nation's Oldest Federal Law Enforcement Agency for the First Time in 230 Years

Pamela A. Smith has worked with the United States Park Police for 23 years and will begin her new role on Sunday

Pamela A. Smith Chief of the U.S. Park Police
Photo: NPS

The National Park Service made history this week after announcing that an African American woman will lead the United States Park Police for the first time in over two centuries.

On Thursday, Pamela A. Smith was announced as the new Chief of the United States Park Police, according to a press release. The USPP is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country.

Smith, a 23-year-veteran of the USPP, will begin her new role on Sunday.

As the new Chief of USPP, Smith will lead the 560-member workforce which serves to protect the "public, parks and the nation's most iconic landmarks in the Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco metropolitan areas."

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One of Smith's duties will be to establish a body-worn camera program for the USPP within her first 90 days. This program will begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year.

"Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers," Smith said in a release. "This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve."

During Smith's long career in law enforcement, she has served in a wide range of roles, including patrol officer, academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, commander of the New York Field Office and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division, among others.

She was also the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

"I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as Chief of Police," Smith said. "Today's officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity."

Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, said Smith's "commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate" is what makes her the "right person" to lead the USPP.

"As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people," added Jennifer Flynn, NPS associate director for visitor and resource protection. "Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization."

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