- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A federal court yesterday told the board that ensures fair treatment of federal employees to reconsider part of its ruling upholding the firing of former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa C. Chambers, a move her supporters say opens the door for a reversal.

Mrs. Chambers was fired in July 2004, seven months after she was suspended for complaining publicly that her department was understaffed and underfunded, keeping her officers from doing their jobs. She said she was dismissed in retaliation for exposing staffing and security problems and claimed protection under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act. The Department of the Interior said she was fired for insubordination and failing to follow the chain of command.

In yesterday’s ruling, the three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed that the Merit Systems Protection Board properly upheld Mrs. Chambers’ firing in 2006. But two judges ruled that the board did not apply the correct standard in ruling that her complaints to reporters and federal officials were covered by the whistleblower act. The board had ruled that Mrs. Chambers’ statements did not meet the law’s standards for disclosing mismanagement. But the judges ruled that the board should have determined whether she was disclosing a danger to public safety.

The court did not rule on several other challenges to her firing.

A report released this month on the Park Police by the Interior Department’s inspector general raises many of the same concerns Mrs. Chambers had voiced about staffing levels and security at national monuments.


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