United States Park Police Career Guide

United States Park Police officers provide law enforcement within certain designated parks under the US Department of the Interior’s National Park Services. The US Park Police consist of three divisions: Field Operations, Homeland Security, and Services. Police may also work in mounted units, patrol units, or traffic units. Their jurisdiction covers all national parks and certain national and state lands designated by the Department of the Interior.

United States Park Police Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

The US Park Police enforce federal statutes, conduct criminal investigations, and detain individuals charged with offenses against the United States. Individual responsibilities are determined by the division of the park police in which the officer is assigned. The Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) covers major crimes, special investigations, identification (processing evidence), narcotics crimes, and asset forfeiture. The special forces unit is comprised of SWAT members, motorcycle units, aviation units, canine units, and community relations and special events units. Depending on their assigned division, park police may oversee major events, such as the annual Fourth of July celebration in Washington DC, may supervise protests, and ensure events goers safety.

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How to Become a United States Park Police Officer: Requirements and Other Qualifications

Prospective United States Park Police officers must:

  • Hold United States citizenship.
  • Be at least 21 years of age and must not have reached their 37th birthday before appointment. A waiver of the maximum entry age may be applicable to individuals who have not passed their 38th birthday and have previous qualifying service in a federal civilian law enforcement position covered by the 6c retirement system.
  • Possess honorable “active duty” military experience of at least two years may be qualifying in lieu of education.
  • Have 20/100 vision or better in each eye that is corrected to 20/20 with glasses or contact lenses.
  • Possess a valid automobile driver’s license (must have a good driving record).
  • Have attained two years (60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours) of education above the high school level from an accredited college or university.

OR

  • Have two years of progressively responsible experience which demonstrates the ability to learn and to apply detailed and complex regulations and procedures that involve making sound judgments based on the application of directions, rules, regulations, or laws.
  • Possess a combination of education and experience as described above.

All candidates must also pass security clearance.

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United States Park Police Job Training

All police officers must undergo 18 weeks of mandatory basic training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers in Glynco, Georgia. Training covers such topics as Investigations, executing search warrants, making arrests, firearms, defensive tactics, intelligence for law enforcement operations, crime scenes, antiterrorism, counterterrorism, interviewing techniques, ethics, and legal issues. Officers may undergo additional field training in their state, working alongside experienced park police.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

US Park Police must have strong personal skills, adhere to the highest level of integrity and honesty, and be prepared to protect the first amendment rights of others, even if they disagree with what is being said. Previous military or law enforcement experience is beneficial.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Park ranger
  • United States Park Police

Career Opportunities and Employers

Park police officers are employed by the federal government and offices are located in Washington DC, New York, and San Francisco. The agency is a division of the Department of Interior, National Parks Service and is the oldest professional law enforcement agency in the United States.

United States Park Police Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for fish and game wardens is $50,470.1 The BLS estimates a 1.2% increase in employment for fish and game wardens for the decade from 2012-2022.2 The BLS projects about 2,000 job openings for replacements and growth from 2012-2022.2

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Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What is the typical work schedule for park police?
Park officers generally work a full time, 40 hour a week schedule. Travel is minimal.

What benefits do park officers receive?
Benefits generally include health insurance, life insurance, sick leave, paid vacation, and holiday leave. Officers may also have their public transportation costs subsidized and are eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System.

What type of specialized units make up the police?
The park police has several specialized units, including aviation, K-9, Marine, and SWAT.

Is the job of a park officer physically demanding?
Yes. Park officers must be able to stand for long periods of time, to run when necessary, to lift heavy items, and to work in all types of, including inclement, weather.

Additional Resources

United States Park Police on Twitter – The Official Twitter of The US Park Police

United States Park Police – National Park Service

US Park Police Retirees Association – A Resource for the National Park Police

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References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333031.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://data.bls.gov/projections/occupationProj
3. United States Park Police: http://www.domesticpreparedness.com/userfiles/reports/Collaboration13.pdf

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.