The United States Park Police did not record radio communications from its administrative and special event channels for a period of approximately two years that included the tumultuous June 2020 protests near the White House, officials said. Home Office investigators in a report released today.
In the latest follow-up to Park Police’s controversial handling of the protests in Lafayette Square, the Office of the Inspector General of the Interior has identified serious problems with the law enforcement agency’s crucial radio operations. law.
“We found that the USPP’s analog recorder appeared to have completely stopped working some time in 2018 and because the USPP had no policy or procedure to ensure they were monitoring their recorder, they did not discover the gap until June 2020,” the OIG said. reported.
The discovery came when Park Police officials requested tapes of the June 1 operation. Investigators said they found no evidence to suggest the USPP intentionally failed to record its radio communications, but the consequences extended beyond the response to the 2020 protest.
“We have confirmed several instances in which officers requested recordings in connection with criminal proceedings that arose while [a] a temporary registration solution was in place, but the USPP was unable to respond to these requests successfully,” the OIG noted.
Protesters began to gather in Lafayette Square near the White House following the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Park police, along with other local law enforcement, responded to the protests.
Park Police agreed with all five recommendations and said they were making improvements.
“We take these issues seriously and are working to ensure their resolution,” National Park Service Director Charles Sams wrote.
Previous OIG reports have identified gaps in inter-agency communication and coordination with the operational response.
“We found weaknesses in the park clearing operation, including the deployment of the US Secret Service before the USPP began its dispersal warnings and the USPP’s failure to provide dispersal warnings. loud enough for everyone to hear and telling demonstrators where to get out first. the cleanup operation has begun,” Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt said last year.
Congressional Democrats say the Trump administration deployed Park Police and other law enforcement for political purposes by clearing out protesters to make way for former President Donald Trump to stage a Bible photo op in front of a church he rarely attended.
OIG investigators, however, previously concluded that police cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install a limescale fence in response to destruction of property and injured officers during protests. previous ones.
In the new report, emails showed command officials involved in the Lafayette Square operation and dispatch personnel seeking to retrieve the tapes were concerned when they learned they were unavailable.
“For example, in a June 2020 email from the USPP Incident Commander at Lafayette Square to send personnel and other command personnel, the Incident Commander…said, “Do not record Last week’s events will go down as one of the biggest critical blackouts possible. Using this information for evidentiary and after-action review purposes is critical,” OIG reported.
On the evening of June 1, 2020, Park Police and several other law enforcement partners evacuated protesters from Lafayette Square. On June 6, an official requested radio recordings of each day of the protests from May 29 to June 3 (green wireJuly 28, 2020).
Dispatch center staff found records for the primary dispatch channel, used for May 29 and May 30 activities. They determined, however, that the administrative channel, used for Park Police operations from May 30 to June 3, had not been recorded.
Police officials said dispatch center personnel did not know until June 2020 that the administrative channel was not recording because they had not previously received a request for its recordings.
“We also found that after discovering the registration failures in 2020, the USPP implemented an ineffective temporary registration solution that did not meet … requirements,” the OIG reported. “Additionally, we learned that the USPP took over 2 years to install their current digital recording system.”
The digital recording system “is still not fully compliant with [Interior Department] policy and faces other ongoing challenges,” the investigators added.