Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers announced Nov. 21 that she is retiring after 35 years of service as a police officer. (Paul J. Richards / Getty Images)
Teresa Chambers, the U.S. Park Police chief who waged an almost seven-year legal battle to reclaim her job, will retire early next month.
“It is time for me to accept new challenges,” Chambers said in a news release issued on her behalf by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which represented her in the litigation. “It was important that I leave on my terms and at a time of my choosing.”
Her Dec. 5 retirement date will fall 35 years to the day after she formally began her law enforcement career as a police officer in suburban Maryland. Chambers was named to lead the park police in early 2002; after telling The Washington Post in December 2003 that short staffing was endangering public safety, she was suspended almost immediately and fired in July 2004 for publicly disclosing budget deliberations, failing to follow the chain of command and several other alleged offenses.
In the convoluted legal trek that went up to a federal appeals court, Chambers said she was making protected disclosures as a whistleblower. Although the appellate court sustained three of the charges against her, the Merit Systems Protection Board concluded that the evidence was too weak to warrant firing. The Interior Department reinstated her soon after the MSPB ruling in January 2011.
Chambers is the first woman to lead the park police, which has about 600 officers. Her example “has inspired countless others to risk honesty in the public interest,” Paula Dinerstein, PEER’s senior counsel and the head of Chambers’ legal team, said in the release.