What else can get you arrested at the Jefferson Memorial?

Would you believe…taking photos of Park Police slacking off on the job?

That’s according to a February 2008 report from the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, which found “the USPP continues to struggle with fulfilling its responsibility to protect the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial to the degree necessary given the national significance of the icons.” In addition, the Park Police “failed to adequately manage its financial affairs” and the agency is “suffering from low morale and lacking confidence in its command staff,” the report found.

In March 2007, the department’s Office of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Management started conducting unannounced site inspections to see how the USPP were handling the task of icon management. Among their findings was an officer at the Jefferson who appeared to be sleeping in a parked squad car (page 13 offers a snapshot) even though the Memorial was ALREADY short-staffed that day and even though “the visitor centers located in both the Lincoln and Jefferson were continually left unmonitored and unprotected.”

Then, on page 14 of the report, you find this gem:

On two occasions, USPP detected assessment team members while conducting covert site visits at the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. During the first incident, a contract security guard confronted assessment team members while they were opening an unsecured utility access door at the Lincoln Memorial. The second occasion occurred at the Jefferson Memorial after an assessment team member was detained after attempting to photograph a USPP officer completing a crossword puzzle for a period of time inside the Memorial’s information office.

Such is the state of an agency whose chief was canned last month; where six of the top 13 police positions are open; and where, according to the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the number of sworn officers on the force shrank to just 576 at the end of January, down from 625 in 2001.

And yet, they still have time to arrest people for dancing.

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