U.S. Park Police Facing Furloughs

By Jackie Bensen
|  Thursday, Mar 28, 2013  |  Updated 10:06 AM EDT
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Police officers who protect the National Mall and our nation's monuments could be furloughed during the height of tourist season. Jackie Bensen has the exclusive details.

Police officers who protect the National Mall and our nation's monuments could be furloughed during the height of tourist season. Jackie Bensen has the exclusive details.

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The police officers who protect the National Mall and our nation's monuments have been told they could be furloughed for two weeks or longer due to sequestration budget cuts.

Documents obtained by News4 indicate the furlough days -- possibly as many as 22 per officer -- could start in two weeks and would be spread throughout the spring and summer tourist season.

According to a letter sent to the union representing U.S. Park Police, officers have been told to  anticipate at least 14 furlough days and as many as 22 between April and September.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says the cuts could be disastrous.

She became a fierce advocate for the U.S. Park Police after a series of robberies and sex assaults on the Mall in summer 2006 brought to light staffing shortages in the agency.

Since then, the Mall has regained its reputation as a safe place.

"Nothing better shows how destructive these sequester cuts are," she said. "...This is dangerous, and the timing of it could not be worse," she said.

Union representative Ian Glick warned the effects could be wide-ranging.

"In the D.C. area, we run not only Medevacs with our aviation unit, but we also protect the areas in and around our national icons, three major parkways in and out of the District of Columbia [and] Rock Creek Parkway within the District of Columbia," Glick said.

He added the Cherry Blossom Festival to his list as well.

"You know, if there was less police activity or supervision, [I] definitely wouldn't be walking around at night," said one woman on the National Mall.

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