FeatureAuthor: Steven Shaw
The investigation into Casey Nocket's actions is gaining steam. Today, TrailMob.com spoke with her mother and National Park Service Spokeswoman, Alexandra Picavet. Nocket is accused of a string of vandalism across western National Parks. During a conversation with her mother earlier today, she reiterated Casey's remorse for the acts, her willingness to accept the punishment and that she is fully cooperating with the investigation. Casey's mother informed us that "she is preparing for a meeting with investigators tomorrow." When we asked the Park Service to verify these claims, we were told "the National Park Service does not comment on open investigations." Picavet did, however, say that "the investigation is on-going and we are doing a full investigation and cannot say if just one person is responsible." The NPS' Initial Press Release indicates they are investigating ten acts of vandalism, to date Nocket has not been linked to all ten. Picavet went on to say "we have forums for artistic expression but vandalism and destruction of National Parks is not one of those forums."
While the Park Service would not comment on the details of the investigation, Spokeswoman Picavet was willing to address a few things with us. This story has gone viral on social media and has also been reported by nearly all national media outlets. With that comes widespread sharing of the vandalism images… it's that sharing that has the NPS very concerned. "The Park Service is asking all media outlets to blur the pictures and to stop sharing unblurred images so as to not give the vandal publicity for these destructive works."
TrailMob is now honoring that request. While a likely oversight by other media outlets, those that are glorifying Nocket's action should perhaps rethink their own actions. Does Cosmopolitan magazine really think that a person who vandalized public property someone who should be celebrated as a "hero" for "inspiring a lot of girls to break some rules"? To many, breaking a rule is skipping school, not vandalism. Breaking the law surely conflict with at least one of the commandments of Cosmo’s Mission Statement. Spokesman Picavet had not heard of this article yet when we shared it with her yet her response says it all: "WOW?!?!?!!!!" We reached out to Cosmo's Public Information Officer Lacey Drucker but our calls have not been returned.
The scope of this investigation means that this is all going to take some time to resolve. While details of the current investigation are in the dark, Spokeswoman Picavet was able to shed some light on the process: "Each park must do its own assessment of the damage," something we're told has not been completed yet, but "once the investigation is complete, it is given to the U.S. Attorney's office who will determine how the case will be brought." The investigation and results from each park’s damage assessment will determine if the damage falls into the realm of misdemeanor or felony. If any areas of historic or archaeological significance were damaged, then the penalties will likely escalate to felonies under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. As for penalties, if misdemeanor charges are brought, the maximum is one year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. That could really add up on a per count basis, depending on how the U.S Attorney's office decides to pursue the case. If felonies are pursued, the maximum penalty stiffens to 1 year in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. A second offense felony carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. Again, this is all subject to how and if U.S. Attorney pursues the case.
While this vandalism is a horrid act to parks that don't belong to any one of us, but rather to all of us, the attention highlights a larger problem that can still hopefully result in a positive outcome. As Spokeswoman Picavet says, "the National Park Service has 80 million acres in its jurisdiction, 20,000 employees [law enforcement is only small subsection of that], and 280 million visitors year." The vandalism in this case "has made many people aware and outraged… people are helping by turning in reports and by not encouraging this type of destructive behavior… these are national treasures and we all have a part in protecting them for future generations."