Chief Pamela A. Smith (Courtesy of U.S. Park Police)
Chief Pamela A. Smith (Courtesy of U.S. Park Police)

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Park Police, has been chosen to lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency as its chief.

Smith, who becomes the first African-American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for the department within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith stated.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Chief Smith offered in a statement. “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and then graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco field office, commander of the New York field office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith counts as the first woman to lead the New York field office as its major.

At the United States Park Police, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in the District, New York City and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service [NPS] director, noted in a statement.

“Over the coming months, leadership of the NPS will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

Jennifer Flynn, the National Park Service associate director for Visitor Resource Protection, added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees the Park Service’s law enforcement programs.

“As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” she said.

Smith promised that she will lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

“I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Smith said. “Today’s officers face many challenges and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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