At the political news site Capitol Hill Blue, journalist Doug Thompson describes his chilling encounter with armed NPS goons in his article American Gestapo:
For the last two years, the Park Service has brought in its "CIT" (Criminal Interdiction Team) from Asheville, North Carolina, to police crowds that use the Parkway to reach the [FloydFest] festival. . . .
As I drove towards the site Thursday, I passed two CIT Park Police officers that had pulled cars over and were forcing the occupants to pull everything out of the car so they could search coolers, back packs, luggage, glove boxes and consoles.
I pulled off the road ahead of the second NPS patrol car, grabbed my camera and headed back to take a photo of the police action. As I approached, the Park Service officer wheeled around and pointed at me.
"Sir, if you raise that camera to take a photograph I will place you under arrest," he barked.
I identified myself as a working journalist on assignment and said I was simply covering a news event.
"Sir," he retorted, "this is U.S. government property and under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act you cannot take photographs of official government activity without authorization. Put your camera down now!"
I could not believe what I was hearing. . . . I asked for his badge number. He refused to reveal it.
"Sir, you have 15 seconds to leave or you are under arrest." He had his hand on his gun so I left. . . .Congressman Rick Boucher, after receiving many complaints, contacted the director of the NPS, and the Virginia State Police took over without incident.
At the festival, patrons told numerous horror stories about encounters that day with the Park Service Police. One young woman was pulled over because she had beads hanging from her rear view mirror. They detained her for more than an hour while they searched her car and found nothing. Another young man was stopped because he had a bolt missing from his license plate frame. When the cops found no drugs or alcohol, they ticketed him for "improper equipment."
With deregulation the power-mongering NPS law enforcement gestapo could effectively be replaced by local law enforcement agencies. Cutting off the diseased limb would prove the most effective way to eliminate abusive law enforcement practices in our national parks.