Former Park Police chief applies for old job

Teresa Chambers, who was fired in July, insists she's "legitimately an applicant."

The Park Police's former chief has applied to get her old job back, more than six months after she was fired from the position.

Teresa Chambers says she feels an obligation to the Park Police and the law enforcement profession, and submitted her application in late December to be considered for the post.

"The job that I and the Park Police team started is incomplete," she said Tuesday. "I'm legitimately an applicant."

The National Park Service placed Chambers on administrative leave in December 2003 after she told The Washington Post that her 620-member police force needed 800 more officers to meet increased demands. She also said the Park Police faced a $12 million budget shortfall and needed $8 million more than the amount the Bush administration had requested for fiscal 2005.

After the article was published, Park Service Deputy Director Don Murphy put Chambers under a gag order, placed her on administrative leave and proposed to remove her from her position. She was officially fired last July.

Chambers has protested her removal, and has a legal case pending against the Park Service in which she is requesting to be reinstated.

The Park Service announced last month that it was accepting applications for the Park Police chief post.

Chambers said she has the skills and experience to be the chief, adding that whatever disagreements she had with Murphy will not impair her ability to serve.

"I've not soured at all [on] the Park Police," she said, adding that the force is still understaffed.

"All the focus turned to me when this happened last year, and very few people even took a second look at the security issues I raised," she added. "Not only have they ignored the issues that I raised, but it's going backward."

Park Service spokesman David Barna had little to say about the matter.

"She is no longer an employee of the National Park Service, and her issues are personnel-related, and we have no additional comment," he said. He would not say whether Chambers' application is under consideration.

He rebuffed criticism, however, that the Park Police is understaffed. He said the force ended fiscal 2004 with 718 employees, including 605 officers and 113 civilians. As of today, he said, the Park Police has 739 total employees, including 625 officers and 114 civilians.

He said security is "a mix between people and technology, which is one of the issues I think Ms. Chambers never really got over here … Security is not all driven by members of the Park Police."

Chambers asked the Merit Systems Protection Board last month to reverse an initial decision that upheld her removal, citing 40 or more legal errors made by the judge and the agency. The appeal is pending.