MCLEAN, Va. - The president of the U.S. Park Police Fraternal Order of Police is speaking out about phone and internet issues at the George Washington Memorial Parkway station.
Michael Shalton, also an officer at the District Two station says the facility has been without working phone lines since August 22nd and no internet for 10 days.
He says they have an internet-based reporting system and evidence tracking system, so they are unable to file police and accident reports and process prisoners after an arrest.
"It's ultimately is taking them away from being here on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a major commuter route, they’re not patrolling that actively when they have to go across the river to D.C. to do reports," says Shalton. "If we’re over there and a call comes out over here, that’s a longer response time, so again this is absolutely a public safety issue."
Shalton claims that the National Park Service, who manages their facilities, was informed years ago that the building's Verizon lines were deteriorating and needed to be replaced.
"The public should be able to contact a police station and we have the obligation to provide a service," he says.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, Shalton's claims were not true:
"The claims are uninformed and not supported by the facts. At no time was the public ever in danger."
“The National Park Service provided cellular-based internet access, and both United States Park Police officers and National Park Service employees have the ability to use a VPN to access systems that are only supported on a government network. Employees also have access to any number of alternative work locations with traditional internet and phone access, including locations within their response area.”
Shalton did say the cellular-based internet that was provided has allowed them to access e-mails, but they are still not able to use their reporting and evidence tracking systems.
"We are a level one facility, an emergency facility, and we need to ensure that if any of our utilities go down here at this police station, that we have a contract in place to be put up on the grid as soon as possible," he says.
The phone issues do not affect anyone calling 911.
A U.S. Park Police spokesman says those calls are always routed through USPP Communications at their Anacostia Operations Facility in Southeast D.C. After the calls for service are taken there , they are dispatched to officers in the field.