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Pamela Smith Breaks Barrier, Becomes First Black Woman to Lead US Park Police

U.S. Park Police Chief Pamela A. SmithPhoto courtesy: National Park Service
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Pamela A. Smith adds to an impressive 23-year resume with the U.S. Park Police in a trailblazing new role.

The National Park Service today achieved a first in its storied 230-year history, naming Pamela A. Smith the new chief of U.S. Park Police (USPP). When she formally assumes the role on Feb. 28, Smith will become the first Black woman to lead America’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

The USPP oversees NPS lands in Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, as well as certain other federal lands.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

In fact, Smith already plans to address those challenges and opportunities, saying she will implement a body camera policy within her first few months as chief.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith said. “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.”

US Park Police Chief Pamela A. Smith

Smith has served with the USPP for 23 years, working her way up through a distinguished career. According to the NPS, Smith has worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

And this isn’t Smith’s first breakthrough achievement. She was also the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its major. She graduated from the FBI National Academy, and she’s a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Jennifer Flynn, the NPS associate director for visitor and resource protection overseeing the NPS’s law enforcement programs, called Smith’s experience “unmatched.” Flynn affirmed that Smith will “be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization.”

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Smith further advances strides made within the NPS, following Teresa C. Chambers, the first female chief of Park Police, and Grant Wright, the first Black chief of Park Police.

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