• Christopher George

    As a career urban park ranger for more then thirty years, I have worked with varied agencies on city, county and state levels. Several of these positions required me to be armed and several to be unarmed. The problem is who you hire as a park ranger to fit that vacancy. I’ve worked as a ranger trainee all the way up to a chief ranger position. Many of these agencies had varied levels of criminal issues in their jurisdiction. With major city’s, the problem lay with demographics. You would often have lower law enforcement issues in a mid to high income community versus a lower level income community. In those lower communities, gangs would flourish, street crime would be up and assaults would be very common. In those areas, training and experience are the main denominator. Wearing a weapon on your belt is not the problem, it’s a tool. It’s who is wearing the weapon that matters. The best weapon that a police officer and park ranger have, is their brains! it’s with this “weapon” that will increase or decrease any situation in a park setting.

    People say “use the police then!” The problem is first; that the police are already up to their proverbial noses with city crime, they don’t have time to patrol the parks. Two; most police officers joined the force to be “police officers” not park rangers., unless the program has had a very good relationship with the police or sheriffs department, then there will be bad blood from the officers point of view, believing that the ranger is “a want to be”. As a result, it is often at times it’s a low level response for the unarmed ranger who may have his/her life on the line.

    Parks are not a priority with local law enforcement, “ambassadors” would be looked at as insignificant and many people would not know what role or function they provide. “Park Rangers” have a historical legacy behind them. They are American icons and on average, most people have a pre-conceived “positive image” of what a park ranger is and what their function is.

    In closing, yes, the City of Santa Anna may have lower crime in their parks, but that is because of the rangers. To remove the rangers from the parks and substituting them with “ambassadors” would only invite the problems to return to the parks because they would have no one of authority to respect.

    Thank you and good luck Santa Anna Park Rangers.

  • Bob Pena

    I’m wondering how many people have these park rangers shot, or the number of complaints against them and how many have been up held. What is the track record?