- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

The firing of former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa C. Chambers has been upheld by an administrative law judge who ruled that Interior Department officials had sufficient grounds.

A reprimand for improper use of a government-owned vehicle, improper remarks to reporters about security on the Mall and failure to carry out a supervisor’s instructions are the reasons Judge Elizabeth B. Bogle of the Merit Systems Protection Board cited in justifying Mrs. Chambers’ dismissal.

Judge Bogle also noted that Mrs. Chambers has not shown any remorse or taken any responsibility for her conduct. Judge Bogle issued a 54-page opinion released this week.

“Her reinstatement would impair the agency’s ability to carry out its law-enforcement mission,” wrote Judge Bogle.

Mrs. Chambers had been the chief of the Durham, N.C., police and spent 21 years on the Prince George’s County force before being hired to manage the 600-member U.S. Park Police force in February 2002.

She ran into trouble late last year. On Dec. 2, Mrs. Chambers told several news organizations that she had been forced to cut back on patrols in the Washington area because her officers were required to guard national monuments. She also said her department had a $12 million budget shortfall in 2003.

Mrs. Chambers was suspended Dec. 5 and fired July 9.

“These violations are inconsistent with the degree of trust required in her position,” wrote Judge Bogle.

The Interior Department applauded Judge Bogle’s decision. The “ruling rejects her claim to whistleblower status,” said Interior Department spokesman Dan Dubray, declining to comment further.

But Mrs. Chambers plans to continue her efforts to gain reinstatement.

“I hope to be here when the next team comes in, whether it’s a few months down the road or four years,” Mrs. Chambers said, adding that top law-enforcement jobs should not be politicized.

“The charges were made up, the information was either fabricated or not there at all,” Mrs. Chambers said.

She said the reprimand stemmed from a misunderstanding about her use of an unmarked police cruiser. She made at least three trips to the Durham area, including two that were personal, while she was unaware of the agency’s vehicle policy.

Either party can appeal the findings to the presidentially appointed Merit Systems Review Board before Nov. 10. The quasijudicial agency’s rulings are subject to federal court review.

Mrs. Chambers could bypass the review board and take the matter directly to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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