Print

News >> Browse Articles >> Law Enforcement News

+37

Fired Police Chief Wins Back Job After Eight-Year Fight

Fired Police Chief Wins Back Job After Eight-Year Fight

Associated Press

January 12, 2011

WASHINGTON — A federal board has ordered the reinstatement of a U.S. Park Police chief who was fired in 2004 after complaining publicly that her department was understaffed and underfunded.

The Merit Systems Protection Board, in a decision Tuesday, also ordered that the U.S. Department of the Interior pay Teresa Chambers back pay, interest and other benefits.

Chambers had contended that she was dismissed in retaliation for exposing staffing and security problems and claimed protection under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act. The Department of Interior said Chambers was fired for insubordination and failing to follow the chain of command.

Dave Barna, spokesman for National Park Service, says the agency is reviewing the decision.

Previous coverage of the incident:

Teresa C. Chambers, the former U.S. Park Police chief who was removed in 2003 for voicing concerns about staffing shortages, could be back on the job next month after federal officials ordered her reinstatement Tuesday citing a lack of evidence.

Chambers was suspended and later fired after telling The Washington Post in December 2003 that traffic accidents had increased along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway because two, rather than the recommended four, officers were on patrol. The police agency also lacked enough officers to protect U.S. parkland, Chambers said at the time, adding that unarmed guards would protect some national monuments.

Citing weak evidence against her, the Merit Systems Protection Board ordered the Park Police Tuesday to reinstate Chambers within 20 days. She is also entitled to retroactive pay starting from July 2004, as well as the reimbursement for legal fees.

The decision caps almost eight years of legal efforts by Chambers, who currently serves as Riverdale’s police chief. She was stunned by the decision, she said Tuesday.

“The goal from the start was to return to the job that I loved, the job I competed for and was hired for, and to make sure justice prevailed, not just for me,” Chambers said in an interview. “This is precedent-setting for other civil servants, other federal employees. One of the questions has been can a federal employee be fired for telling the truth, and this case will lay the groundwork for the future.”

The Bush administration had removed her on the basis of six charges, two of which were later dismissed by an administrative judge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed another charge last April and the MSPB dismissed the others Tuesday. ad_icon

Her lawyer, Paula Dinerstein of the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, called the decision “a wonderful ruling, not only for Chief Chambers but for thousands who believe that honesty is part of public service.”

The National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police, is reviewing the ruling and had no comment Tuesday, according to spokesman David Barna.

Salvatore Lauro has served as Park Police chief since January 2009. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. By law, Lauro would have to step down to make room for Chambers, according to her lawyers.

MSPB is an independent three-member panel that hears appeals from federal employees seeking reinstatement. Two of the board’s three members, Susan Tsui Grundmann and Anne M. Wagner, were appointed by President Obama; Mary M. Rose was appointed by George W. Bush.

About 1 percent of appeals result in reinstatement, according to agency figures from 2008.

Chambers said she was puzzled and disappointed by the Obama administration’s decision to continue the legal battle, having expected it would drop the case.

“But everything happens for a reason,” she said. “A compromise, or the executive branch stepping in and fixing this wouldn’t have had the long-reaching positive impact of a court decision, in this case several court decisions and a Merit Systems Protection Board decision. That’s going to be more positive for the greater good.”


+37
  • Herosonpatrol_max50

    BeachAngel

    over 3 years ago

    5888 Comments

    Congratulations Chief Chambers & great that you stuck up for your officers. Always great to hear the positives in this field. Good Luck to you & may all of you stay safe out there. Take Care! :)

  • Moe__1_max50

    DET727FPD

    over 3 years ago

    14 Comments

    Congratulations Chief, God Bless !!!!!

  • Craig_w_floyd_and_chaplain_david_matthew_with_the_police_banner_max50

    VolunteerChaplain813

    over 3 years ago

    62 Comments

    To my friend Chief T. Chambers very happy for you. I'm very proud of you in taking a stand. It shows that with God things all possible.. Can't wait to see you soon God bless you Chief thanks for being my friend and mentor in my life. Take care you friend David Matthew former resident of Riverdale Park, Maryland now im living in Mascotte, Florida..

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BO2234

    over 3 years ago

    74 Comments

    The rank and file I talked to from US Park were VERY happy with Chambers and equally UNHAPPY to see her go. She stood up for them and their work. God love her.

  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    over 3 years ago

    2944 Comments

    Way to stay the course.

  • Ocp-me_max50

    sigmachimarine

    over 3 years ago

    300 Comments

    Congratulations to a job well done! I'm always for fighting a broken system.

  • 20552_1343137337912_1215571721_31006460_5991340_n_max50

    TrafficCop28

    over 3 years ago

    1424 Comments

    I don't think it's a national secret that every department needs additional funding to hire more officers, get better equipment and take the fight to criminals. Keep up the good fight!

  • Car_004_max50

    copper380

    over 3 years ago

    2026 Comments

    Congratts Chief, Way to hang in there, you are a positive example for all those that have been wronged by employers.

    Nice to hear a cop story with a happy ending for a change!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    uspp459

    over 3 years ago

    18 Comments

    What will probably happen is they will move the current Chief to a position at HQ, or bump him down to the Assistant Chief with full chief's pay and return her to Chief. It's not fair to the other parties involved, but the ruling is legally binding. The approach is to make her whole agian and restore her to the level at when she was fired. Congratulations to the Chief on a hard fought battle.

  • Cb46b4bfa58cfbd6_max50

    cnjbrooks

    over 3 years ago

    148 Comments

    Congratulations

  • Cert_max600_max50

    coshane220

    over 3 years ago

    682 Comments

    Congrats chief;

    She is currently serving as police chief in another department, so my question is; What will she do? Continue to serve her new department, or jump back to her old position?

    Perhaps she should just take that back pay and resign from the parks and continue down the path she is already on.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    That will be a heck of a nice chunk of back pay. I say she deserves every penny.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50

    aussie4

    over 3 years ago

    5328 Comments

    I understand her wanting to clear her name etc., but I cant imagine fighting this for that many years, the toll it must have taken cant be measured in a lifetime.

  • 100_1019_max50

    bobska

    over 3 years ago

    660 Comments

    Congrats Chief, way to hang in there, I hope all works out for you, and dam that's going to be one hell of a nice check!! Almost like winning the lottery!!!!

  • Police_link_badge_max50

    HEYSARGE

    over 3 years ago

    16726 Comments

    Good luck.....

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.