- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

The U.S. Park Police yesterday swore in Teresa Chambers as its chief, the 14th leader of the centuries-old force and the first woman.
"What an awesome day. This is great," she told family, friends and colleagues who packed Baird Auditorium inside the National Museum of Natural History, where she was sworn in by Secretary of the Interior Gail A. Norton and Fran P. Mainella, director of the National Park Service.
The new chief thanked the two women who administered the oath of office, themselves the first women to hold their jobs.
Chief Chambers takes charge of the 700 men and women who serve with the Park Police, including the highly visible 33-member mounted team, whose beautifully groomed and well-conditioned horses trot through the National Mall, bringing smiles to the faces of passers-by and delighting children.
"Chief Chambers has proven that there's no glass ceiling for women in our agency," said Lt. Jackie Burks, commander of the Horse Mounted Patrol Unit, who beamed with pride atop her mount at ceremonies outside after the swearing-in.
"She's broken through," said Lt. Burks, also the first female in her position. "We're excited about the future."
She said that immediately after September 11 terrorist attacks, the Horse Mounted Patrol Unit concentrated its forces around the monuments and the White House because the officers have such high visibility on horseback.
"The public can see us and have a sense of security when they see us on mounted horses," Lt. Burks said.
The Horse Mounted Patrol Unit is still on alert, Lt. Burks said, but normal patrols have resumed. However, she said, her unit continues to pay particular attention to demonstrations in the area.
The Olympic-caliber riders are mounted on 1,200-pound horses that can gallop to wherever they are needed, stop on a dime or leap over 5-foot barricades to help tourists or defend the nation's capital.
The Park Police has had jurisdiction over federal parkland since 1791, when it was established by George Washington. The major monuments on the National Mall are among sites they patrol, but their beat also includes the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and several roads around the District, including the George Washington and Baltimore-Washington parkways.
"Since September 11, every one of our lives has changed. It is so important that people feel secure," Mrs. Mainella said at the swearing-in.
"People feel safe when they come into a national park. We have over 600 Park Police who work with us. Oftentimes, we forget all the areas they cover."
She added that the new chief comes with high marks. She's known for working in partnerships and she has an ability to work with other agencies, such as the FBI and the CIA, Mrs. Mainella said.
Once the hourlong swearing-in ceremony ended, the Horse Mounted Patrol Unit and various other forces, including the motorcycle unit and the canine unit, saluted the new chief in formation outside.
She served on the Prince George's County Police Department for 21 years before taking the position of chief of police in Durham, N.C., a job she held for four years.
She was named to head the Park Police in December, eight months after Robert Langston retired after 10 years on the job.
"The opportunity to lead the men and women of the prestigious U.S. Park Police force is the professional opportunity of a lifetime," she said at the time of her appointment.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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