News Release

National Park Service Names Pamela A. Smith Chief of the U.S. Park Police

Pamela A. Smith Chief of the U.S. Park Police stand in front of a stone bridge in Rock Creek Park.
Pamela A. Smith Chief of the U.S. Park Police

NPS photo

News Release Date: February 25, 2021


WASHINGTON – The National Park Service today announced Pamela A. Smith has been named the new Chief of the United States Park Police (USPP). Smith, a 23-year veteran of the USPP, becomes the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency. She will begin her new role on February 28.

“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 NPS 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.”

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said NPS Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection Jennifer Flynn, who oversees the NPS’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. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization.”

“I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as Chief of Police,” said Chief Smith. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”

In one of her first actions, Chief Smith will establish a body-worn camera program for USPP 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 Chief Smith. “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

During her distinguished 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 earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (Session 265), and a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. She is also a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Established in 1791, the USPP is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. Today, the 560-member workforce serves to protect the public, parks and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in the Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

Last updated: February 25, 2021