Insight by Verizon Frontline

U.S. Park Police sergeant says interoperability ‘makes us all stronger’

The Park Police has benefited from the adoption of more advanced technology in recent years, which has led to improved efficiency, effectiveness and safety for ...

The United States Park Police is a federal law enforcement agency with a unique mission to protect the public and park resources within the National Park Service system.

Created in 1791, it is one of the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agencies in the country.

“We serve a very distinct role because we have a very large community presence,” U.S. Park Police Sgt. Thomas Twiname said during a Federal Insights discussion sponsored by Verizon Frontline.

Park Police officers are located in the D.C., New York City and San Francisco metro areas.

The agency is responsible for the law enforcement and security services at more than 80 parks, monuments, memorials and other sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, including major national landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall.

“It provides us the opportunity to experience a lot of career growth and career development, with various opportunities within our organization as well as having the ability to work in several geographic areas within the country,” said Twiname.

The primary mission of the Park Police is to protect visitors, park resources and government property while also enforcing federal laws and providing emergency response services.

Officers receive extensive training in a variety of areas, including criminal investigations, crowd management, emergency medical services and counterterrorism.

They work closely with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of the parks and their visitors.

The importance of working together

The practice of developing and maintaining relationships with state and local agencies allows the Park Police to effectively coordinate emergency response efforts and share intelligence.

Building partnerships with other agencies helps to establish clear lines of communication and facilitate coordination in times of crisis, and it helps to promote a sense of collaboration and mutual support.

For example, when responding to a natural disaster or other emergency, the Park Police may need to work closely with local law enforcement, fire departments and other first responders to ensure an effective and timely response.

“Agency cooperation and agency interoperability are a very essential component to our mission that we do on a daily basis,” Twiname said. “The relationship that we have with these partners – whether that be at a local, state, regional or even a federal level – makes us all stronger.”

Twiname said one of the most vivid examples of interoperability came in January of 1982, when an Air Florida jet trying to fly out of D.C. in a snowstorm crashed into the 14th Street Bridge before plunging into the Potomac River.

As the aircraft attempted to climb, it became clear that it was not gaining altitude as expected. The pilots attempted to correct the problem by increasing engine thrust, but it was too late.

The crash killed 78 people in all, including 74 on the plane and four on the ground.

“It was really one of those things that was at the forefront at a time when interoperability was just sort of in an infancy stage,” said Twiname. “It showcased the importance of being able to work with partners in law enforcement, taking into consideration fire departments and the Coast Guard.”

The various agencies worked together to provide an effective response, which included search and rescue operations, recovery of victims and investigation of the crash.

Better tech plays a role

The Park Police has benefited from the adoption of more advanced technology in recent years, which has led to improved efficiency, effectiveness and safety for the agency.

“We’re constantly evaluating the technology that we can use to help us do our job,” said Twiname. “Technology never slows down.”

Just as smart phones have changed everything for civilians, advanced communication tools have opened up new opportunities for the Park Police.

Officers now communicate with each other and with other law enforcement agencies in real-time.

It enables them to quickly respond to incidents, coordinate resources and share critical information, which can be instrumental in preventing and solving crimes.

“There are always open lines of communication,” Twiname said. “We have the ability to talk to the people that we need to talk to instantly, which is a huge benefit to us.”

According to Twiname, cutting-edge technology has been particularly helpful for officers who are investigating crash scenes, for example.

The investigations are now more concise and more detailed, and officers are able to get major roadways cleared more quickly.

“Computer technology, cell phone technology, cloud-based technology – that’s all always improving, and it’s always evolving,” said Twiname.

Listen to the full show:

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.