WASHINGTON -- The National Park Service today announced Pamela A. Smith, a native of Pine Bluff, has been named the new chief of the United States Park Police, according to a news release from the park service.
Smith, a 23-year veteran of the park police, becomes the first Black woman to lead the 230-year-old agency. She will began her new position on Sunday.
"Chief Smith's commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country," said Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service director.
"Over the coming months, leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization's commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation."
Smith's leadership experience is extensive, giving her an "unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency," said National Park Service Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection Jennifer Flynn, who oversees the agency's law enforcement programs.
"As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people," Flynn said. "Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization."
Smith said her promotion was an honor and a privilege.
"Today's officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities," Smith said. "I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity."
In one of her first actions, Smith will establish a body-worn camera program for U.S. Park Police within 90 days. The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year.
"Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days," said Smith.
During her law enforcement career, Smith has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division. She was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its major.
Smith grew up in Pine Bluff, graduating from Pine Bluff High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She went on to graduate from the FBI National Academy (Session 265), and is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.