News Release

NPS completes investigation following December 2020 law enforcement incident at Petroglyph National Monument

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Date: March 12, 2021
Contact: Vanessa Lacayo

Albuquerque, N.M. – Underscoring its commitment to community engagement and transparency, the National Park Service (NPS) today announced the results of an internal affairs investigation following a December 2020 law enforcement incident at Petroglyph National Monument. Following the incident, the NPS has worked to renew its commitment to Tribal engagement and is drawing on community partnerships to strengthen collaboration and cultural awareness within and outside of the Monument.

On December 27, 2020, a law enforcement ranger contacted two individuals he observed off trail on rocks containing petroglyphs. The recently completed internal affairs investigation confirmed that prior to the officer using his electronic control device, or taser, the officer attempted to resolve the interaction with an educational contact and simple warning and made repeated attempts to deescalate the interaction. During this initial interaction, both individuals provided false names and dates of birth to the officer. The investigation determined that the law enforcement ranger's actions were consistent with agency policy and appropriate given the totality of the circumstances, including policy to preserve the significant cultural resources of the petroglyphs.

“The National Park Service remains committed to respecting the rights and dignity of every individual. This incident provided a learning experience for us to build on how we incorporate Tribal and Pueblo perspectives in our everyday work,” said National Park Service Regional Director Mike Reynolds. “In the months ahead, we will be working with the Pueblo and Tribal communities to develop ways to better coordinate use of the area for ceremonial and religious purposes.” 

With input from local Pueblos and Tribes, the National Park Service is working to implement a plan to strengthen protection of the sensitive cultural resources found in the park through a designated trail system. The National Park Service has also sought cultural awareness training for its employees and expert guidance from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and will continue to pursue future opportunities with the City of Albuquerque’s Open Space Division and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  

In consultation with the United States Attorney’s Office, the male received citations for being in a closed area off trail, providing false information and failing to comply with a lawful order. The female individual received citations for providing false information and being in a closed area off trail.   

In accordance with NPS policy, the incident was referred for a thorough investigation to the Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency’s internal affairs unit which conducts complete, objective and independent investigations of alleged misconduct to determine whether actions of NPS law enforcement officials are reasonable and within policy.

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On December 27, 2020, a law enforcement park ranger contacted two visitors who were walking in a closed area off-trail, which is a violation of National Park Service regulations within Petroglyph National Monument. This video captures their interaction from the officer's body camera.

Last updated: March 12, 2021

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