Pamela A. Smith is set to take command of the U.S. Park Police on Sunday. She is the first Black woman to lead the 230-year-old federal agency.
Smith’s job entails protecting national parks and landmarks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco metro areas. She is a 23-year veteran of the force and is the most recently appointed person in a leadership role in Biden’s new administration, which desires to promote diversity.
One of her priorities is to mandate body cameras for all USPP officers. The initiative will start in San Francisco and continue to span out to other places in the country until the end of the year.
“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers,” said Smith. “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.”
During the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, the USPP received backlash for using excessive force. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., thinks the body camera program is an overdue step that will improve faith in the Park Police officer’s patrol communities.
“I commend Chief Smith and National Park Service leadership for finally making this happen, and I hope it is the beginning of larger progress on transparency and reform for federal police,” Beyer said in an emailed statement. “There is more still to do.”
Additionally, Biden nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to take charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Brooks-LaSure will be the first Black person and Woman to act as the Capitol Police chief.
In the next few months, Chief Smith will implement initiatives to strengthen the transparency of the USPP and increase trust in the organization.