On December 27, 2020, a National Park Service law enforcement officer at Petroglyph National Monument contacted two individuals who were observed climbing on and among petroglyph cliff features off trail. The cliffs are a protected, sacred archeological site within the park, and hiking is limited to designated trails to preserve local cultural resources.
In accordance with National Park Service policy, this incident is under review and was referred to the NPS Office of Professional Responsibility, our internal affairs unit, for a thorough investigation. That investigation will include interviews with the officers, those involved, and any other witnesses who were in the area at the time of the incident. Investigators will also review the video captured by one of the individuals and later posted to social media, as well as the body worn camera footage worn by the NPS law enforcement officer.
While the incident remains under investigation, we are sharing more details and the facts as we know them in an effort to provide as much transparency as possible. Prior to the officer using his electronic control device, or taser, the officer attempted to resolve the interaction with an educational contact and simple warning. During this initial interaction, both individuals provided fake names and dates of birth to the officer.
In consultation with the United States Attorney’s Office, the male received citations for being in a closed area off trail, providing false information and failing to comply with a lawful order. The female individual received citations for providing false information and being in a closed area off trail.
Petroglyph National Monument is one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Many areas within the park are closed to ensure we can sustainably manage and preserve each resource. The Monument contains upwards of 20,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings), numerous archeological sites, and preserves remnant native habitat and natural resources. There are 29 area pueblos and tribes who consider the Petroglyph a sacred place and who visit the area to connect with their ancestors, for prayer, and for ceremony.
The National Park Service values our partnership with tribal communities and actively works to ensure that tribes and tribal members have full and appropriate access to their sacred sites.
On December 27, a law enforcement park ranger contacted two visitors who were walking in a closed area off-trail, which is a violation of National Park Service regulations within Petroglyph National Monument. This video captures part of their interaction from the officer’s body camera. Video will be updated with captions and an audio description soon.