08-29-12 Speier Presses NPS to Release Details on Taser Usage

NEWS RELEASE

CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER

Congresswoman Speier Presses NPS to Release Details on Taser Usage

SAN MATEO, CA – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today released a letter she received from Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Superintendent Frank Dean regarding the January 29, 2012 taser incident at Rancho Corral de Tierra that involved NPS Ranger Sarah Cavallaro and Montara resident Gary Hesterberg.

Speier stated, “I am releasing this letter because the National Park Service has been dragging its feet since the investigation was completed on April 25th and has not been transparent and forthright with the public. First, I was told that the Privacy Act of 1974 prevents disclosure of the facts, then I was informed that a potential prosecution of the tasing victim kept even the most basic details from being released. But I have recently been informed that there will be no prosecution which eliminates any legal barriers that are standing in the way of NPS releasing a summarized version of the facts that would be in compliance with the Privacy Act.”

Speier added, “I’m deeply disappointed in how the NPS has handled the matter from start to finish. NPS owes it to the public to be up front and honest about the results of the investigation and its taser usage policy moving forward. It needs to reassure park visitors that force will only be used when absolutely required on the rarest occasions when a person is actively resisting a law enforcement officer. As it stands, the current NPS policy is overly broad, flawed and allows rangers far too much discretion as to when they can use tasers. In the coming days I will be urging NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis to revise the policy so that tasers will only be used in very limited circumstances, in line with the majority of law enforcement agencies. I understand that the GGNRA is planning a community meeting for Monday, September 10th in the area near Rancho Corral de Tierra. I plan on attending and expect that GGNRA leadership will be prepared to hear from the community about this issue and appropriately respond to their concerns at that time.

On February 1st, 2012 Congresswoman Speier wrote to the National Park Service requesting information about the incident itself and a full and thorough report outlining the results. On June 29th, nearly five months after the request, Speier received the attached letter that stated that while the report has been completed by the National Park Service Office of Professional Responsibility and Ranger Cavallaro exonerated, details could not be released due to constraints imposed by the federal Privacy Act (of 1974). Shortly thereafter, Speier contacted Superintendent Frank Dean and urged him to inform the public of the results of the investigation and legal constraints that prevented complete disclosure. In the interest of transparency, Speier urged Dean to convene a public meeting to answer her constituent’s question about the incident itself and offer clarification about the taser usage policy moving forward.

Congresswoman Speier’s office has recently been informed that all charges have been dropped against Mr. Hesterberg, hence removing the impediments to releasing details.

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