Police protecting U.S. icons 'failed,' report says

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The federal police force responsible for protecting the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty and other national icons is understaffed, under-equipped, under-trained and demoralized, according to an assessment that echoes earlier studies.

The new report says the 592-officer U.S. Park Police force is torn between acting as an urban police department and protecting national icons, and consequently "has failed to adequately perform either mission."

Many terrorism experts say the national icons are prime terrorist targets because of their enormous symbolic value and their location at population centers. But, the report said, while Park Police officials state that icon protection is a priority, "their actions indicate otherwise."

The department has no "command-level" person responsible for icon protection, nor does it have a comprehensive security program, and the number of officers has fallen below 2001 levels, said Department of Interior Inspector General Earl E. Devaney.

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