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National Park Service Declines to Release Report on Taser Use, Drops Charges on Dog Walker

Congresswoman Jackie Speier presses the National Park Service to be more transparent about its Taser usage policy and to release investigative report on dog walker Taser incident last January.

Nearly six months later — after requesting information from the National Park Service (NPS) about its Taser usage policy and the results of an investigation concerning a Montara man who was stunned with a Taser by a ranger in the Rancho Corral de Tierra property for walking dogs off-leash — Congresswoman Jackie Speier has received a reply from the NPS, declining to release the details she's asking for.

The investigative report on the Taser incident that Speier is inquiring about is being held confidential under federal law, although it was intially to be released to the public after it was completed in April.

“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,” writes Speier in a press release issued yesterday. “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.”

In the press release, Speier also makes known that the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) has dropped charges against the Montara dog walker Gary Hesterberg and has exonerated its ranger Sara Cavallaro.

Still, this “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,” she writes. “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.”

The Jan. 29, 2012, Taser incident sparked such a tumult of public backlash, Speier called into question the ranger’s actions. Critics denounced the use of a Taser, while NPS officals said the Taser use was justified.

Today, she’s 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, Sept. 10 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,” she writes.

Speier has also contacted Superintendent Frank Dean, urging him to inform the public of the results of the investigation and legal constraints that prevented complete disclosure. In the interest of transparency, Speier is asking Dean to convene a public meeting to answer questions about the incident itself and offer clarification about the Taser usage policy.

“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," writes Speier. "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.”

According to the Half Moon Bay Review, a meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m., Sept. 6, at Farallone View Elementary School, 1100 LeConte Ave., Montara.

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hutch August 29, 2012 at 09:37 PM
wholly crap!
hutch August 29, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Though I did protest the war, I was only 12.
hutch August 29, 2012 at 09:42 PM
If that park ranger was any of your daughters I'll bet you'd want her to do exactly what she did. Shame on Jackie Speier for criticizing a peace officer for political purposes.
Pacificat August 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
If that park ranger was my daughter, I'd ask her what the hell happened. Then I'd expect the NPS to report the results of their investigation. Shame on the NPS for their lack of transparency.
Geo Kitta September 06, 2012 at 12:55 AM
This is not an isolated case - the NPS has much to cover up and is continually attempting do so. To a (hopefully) select few taxpayer paid state law enforcement employees, our parks are these places 'out there' removed from civilization and this group of over zealous military wannabe's feel free to come down on people as hard as they see fit regardless of their responsibility under the greater law. Just wait until all parks are privatized and real thugs (think Blackwater or whatever they go by now) are in their place. A vote for Romney will get you there quickest.

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