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.