U.S. Park Police Announce End of Furloughs

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    The U.S. Park Police announced Friday that they will end sequester-induced furloughs, effective June 1.

    The news comes after concerns emerged over public safety and traffic problems, especially as large crowds are expected in the district over Memorial Day weekend and other summer holidays.

    In a recent letter obtained exclusively by News4, the department's chief told the force his goal was reduce overtime hours -- which meant that during shift changes, "non-essential" calls could be effectively put on hold for up to an hour.

    Officers had been slated to have at least 14 unpaid furlough days, and many as 22, through September.

    Furloughs Mean Gaps in Park Police Coverage

    [DC] Park Police Hours Diminished Due to Furloughs
    Furloughs have forced the U.S. Park Police to cut officers' overtime hours, in effect placing some emergency calls on hold.

    The Park Police said in a press release Friday that the savings from the three furlough days officers had already taken in 2013 have improved the force's finances, as have other cost-cutting measures.

    Cost projections had also previously been overestimated, the release said.

    "While this is encouraging news to the members of the [U.S. Park Police Fraternal Order of Police], it is important to point out that the agency is still understaffed, poorly funded and lacks financial control of its own operations," wrote chairman Ian Glick in the release. 

    Glick said earlier in the week that reduced Park Police coverage could lead to traffic nightmares. Officers change shifts at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. -- so any accidents would threaten to snarl rush-hour commutes, because traffic accidents are classified as "non-essential" calls.

    "The officers who will be responding will be waiting until the next shift," Glick said.

    D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said earlier this week that she opposed the cuts. "You can not furlough police because by doing so, you furlough public safety," she said.

    Norton sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators asking for more funding for federal police in the next fiscal year. She said on Wednesday she was still waiting for a response.

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