Once written off as a forgone casualty of sequestration, the U.S. Park Police just got some good news.
Due to “forensic accounting,” the 641 sworn officers tasked with patrolling the nation’s parks and monuments will be furlough-free for the rest of the year.
National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis announced late last week that the furloughs of officers and staff that patrol national parkland and monuments will come to an end June 1.
“As a result of cost-cutting measures implemented earlier this year, and now armed with seven months of actual costs – versus projections – we are able to reduce the furlough to the three days already taken,” Jarvis said in a written statement dated May 24.
“This is good news for our employees, good news for our visitors as we start the summer season this Memorial Day weekend, and good news for the security of our nation’s icons – the places that the dedicated men and women of the U.S. Park Police protect every day,” Jarvis said.
The cost-cutting measures the department took include limitations on overtime and travel, canceling a new class of recruits and limiting the use of helicopters to emergencies only.
The national parks have also slashed seasonal and full-time hiring and pared many visitor services to absorb a $153 million cut.
Jarvis said his staff began scouring the Park Police budget before sequestration kicked in March 1 to find $5 million the police had to lose this fiscal year, a 5 percent cut.
Furloughs were the only choice, he told The Washington Post, because the bulk of the police budget is salaries.
But two weeks ago, Jarvis told the comptroller to dig deeper and find other places where they could save. It’s a process he called “forensic accounting.”