I just got off the phone with Sergeant Robert Lachance, Public Information Officer at National Capital Parks-East. This item he submitted for the NPS Morning Report had caught my attention:
Officers Scott Brecht and Jason Omo were on patrol of River Terrace [a picnic area in Anacostia Park ], just after 1 a.m. on August 21st to check into complaints of illegal activities there from park neighbors. They came upon two people in the park’s playground area. Evidence indicated that they were involved in illicit behavior. The pair then began walking in the direction of the officers. The officers checked them out, then discovered an Uzi submachine gun in the place they’d just left. The weapon was loaded and the selector switch was set to full auto. Both were arrested and charged with weapon offenses and other violations.
Officer Lachance explained that even in the context of National Capital Parks-East, where dealing with weapons violations is a far from rare occurrence, this particular one was pretty unusual. Why these two men toted such potent ordnance into a park playground in the middle of the night is apparently not yet a matter of public record. However, it seems likely that the arrest of this pair and the seizure of the Uzi averted a potentially lethal incident.
The PIO added that this incident is an example (albeit extreme) of the kind of work that Park Police officers are compelled to do in National Capital Parks-East. The various urban parks in this unit of National Capital Parks contain numerous playgrounds, picnic areas, athletic fields, and other facilities nestled within or very close to residential neighborhoods. Much effort is put into community relations and making people aware that the Park Police, which functions pretty much the way a regular police force does, is there “to serve and protect.”