Pamela Smith Set To Make History As First Black Woman Chief of the U.S. Park Police


March 2, 2021

It’s a new era!

Pamela A. Smith is set to make history as the first Black woman chief of the U.S. Park Police (USPP), ABC 7 WJLA reports.


Smith is a Park Police veteran with more than two decades of experience under her belt. She earned a bachelor’s from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. She got her start as a patrol officer before transitioning to field training. She then served in several capacities, including canine handler, an academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and executive lieutenant to the chief of police.

Now, Smith is the first black woman to lead the Park Police in the agency’s 230-year history. She has already begun shaking things up, vowing to announce the implementation of body cameras for officers at Park Police’s San Francisco field office within the first 90 days. Her goal is to get all USPP officers wearing body cameras before the end of the year.


“This is one of the many steps I will take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public,” Smith told reporters, noting that while she will require body cameras to be worn, any requests for footage will still have to be made “through the Freedom of Information Act… and will be processed in accordance with applicable laws and policies, including the Privacy Act.”

Smith’s appointment comes at a time when the nation is embroiled in a racial reckoning heavily centered around police brutality. USPP is no different. Smith will have to navigate the department through criticism and investigations surrounding the 2017 murder of Bijan Ghaisar in Virginia at the hands of Park Police officers and the violent clearing of peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square on June 1st. 

The new chief spoke to reporters about both incidents, saying, “All use of force complaints are being investigated by our internal affairs unit.” She promised to make getting briefed about the Ghaiser case her priority since she worked at the New York field office during the time. 


In addition to her work with USPP, Smith is also a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. 

Congratulations, Chief Smith!

Photo Courtesy of National Park Service


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