D.C.’s delegate to Congress is asking if sequestration contributed to the green-paint vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial, at a statue memorializing Joseph Henry, at the National Cathedral and at other monuments.
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) yesterday sent a letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis to request answers within 30 days about staffing levels and whether they’re enough to protect national treasures.
Jia M. Tian, 58, a Chinese national, is being held in the vandalism.
Norton noted that in May she met with the Park Police, the Capitol Police, and Federal Protective Service “to discuss the effects of sequestration because I was concerned about public safety in the nation’s capital following the tragic loss of life and the injuries at the Boston Marathon.”
“There is now considerable concern about whether other monuments on the National Mall are in jeopardy of being vandalized, and whether there is adequate protection to ensure that such acts do not occur in the future,” she wrote. “Because the Park Police are the only federal police with citywide (aside from the Secret Service) and region-wide jurisdiction and because the Park Police are charged with public safety for the National Mall, I ask that you provide my office with answers to several questions.”
These include questions about pre- and post-sequestration staffing levels and whether “there coordination among the police forces in the nation’s capital specifically to prevent vandalism and defacement, or on issues other than preventing terrorist attacks, including with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police, Smithsonian Institution Office of Protection Services, and National Zoological Park Police, among others.”
“In 1997, I was able to get a provision enacted that allowed the Metropolitan Police Department to enter into cooperative agreements with federal law enforcement entities to enforce local D.C. law, and many have done so. Until this provision, most of these sworn police officers had jurisdiction only on their immediate premises,” Norton added. “This provision has played a role in protecting public safety here.”
“No matter how many police forces are in the nation’s capital, we will not be able to meet the challenges we face today to protect against the unexpected unless there is coordination. Therefore, I ask for an explanation of NPS’s current efforts to coordinate police forces to protect the monuments on our National Mall, as well as specific answers to my questions, within 30 days.”