Unarmed city park:"Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors,"

This is a discussion on Unarmed city park:"Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors," within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; http://content.hamptonroads.com/stor...717&ran=248492 Suffolk park rangers seek more authority to enforce laws The Virginian-Pilot © August 4, 2007 SUFFOLK Fed up with vandalism, graffiti and alcohol use ...

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Thread: Unarmed city park:"Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors,"

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Unarmed city park:"Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors,"

    http://content.hamptonroads.com/stor...717&ran=248492

    Suffolk park rangers seek more authority to enforce laws

    The Virginian-Pilot
    © August 4, 2007

    SUFFOLK

    Fed up with vandalism, graffiti and alcohol use at city parks, park rangers want to be authorized to write tickets, arrest offenders and possibly carry handguns.

    This month, a formal request from Suffolk's Parks and Recreation Department for park rangers to be given some law enforcement powers goes to the circuit court in Suffolk. A judge has to approve park rangers' ability to write summonses to court.

    The focus is not on providing firearms to park rangers, said Lakita Frazier, director of Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

    "It's about the ability to enforce any laws being broken in the park," said Frazier. She began considering the change two years ago after one employee asked for law enforcement authority.

    Mayor Linda Johnson said sometimes it would be helpful for a ranger to be armed. A circuit court judge will determine whether that is needed.

    " There are pros and cons," but ultimately it's up to a judge to decide, said Johnson, who does not think the City Council needs to vote on the issue.

    Currently park rangers in Suffolk do not have law enforcement powers. They rely on the Suffolk Police Department.

    J.R. Ruggiero, park ranger sergeant for Suffolk Parks and Recreation, said offenders often leave before police arrive. At larger parks, he said, police response times range from 30 minutes to an hour.
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    "Our parks are super, super safe, but there are occasional problems with drugs, graffiti and alcohol," Ruggiero said. Rangers need the legal authority because the city is growing and more people are using the parks, he said.

    Park rangers in Chesapeake and Newport News have law enforcement powers. In Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, city police officers check the parks as part of regular patrols.

    Rick Rowe, parks coordinator for Virginia Beach, said park officials have discussed adding law enforcement powers to manage traffic and large crowds at the city's 229 parks and facilities.

    Rowe has concerns about turning park supervisors into law enforcement officials, though.

    "If we decided to ask them to do that, I think it would really hamper what their current duties are," Rowe said. As in other cities, park rangers in Virginia Beach maintain the grounds, open and close parks, supervise staff, provide customer service and rentals, collect money, and manage the facilities on the park property.

    Ruggiero, who went through law enforcement training at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services in 2006, said the added duties would benefit Suffolk's parks.

    "Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors," he said. He would like Suffolk's five park rangers to have the option of becoming special conservators of the peace.

    Russ Greene, a ranger at Suffolk's Bennett's Creek Park, said he is interested in becoming a conservator. It would give him more confidence when approaching people who are breaking the law, he said.

    "We can actually do something about it" with legal authority, he said. "We have a lot of vandalism that goes on around here."

    Greene has no experience with a gun; he became a ranger because he loves working outside.

    Ruggiero would like to be granted the power to carry a firearm, issue summonses, make arrests and write citations. He also wants to be allowed to assist Suffolk police in an emergency.

    Frazier prefers that rangers' duties and powers be in effect only at the city's 41 parks and recreation sites, which span more than 1,000 acres.

    She said she will model Suffolk's ranger program after Chesapeake's, if a judge approves.

    Rangers in Chesapeake have been armed since 1976. "There's never been a gun fired, and, to my knowledge, never been one pulled," said Robert Clifton, Chesapeake's director of parks and recreation.

    Newport News has one of the largest fleets of armed park rangers in the area, with 20 covering 32 parks and recreation centers. They can arrest people and write tickets.

    Amy Couteé, (757) 222-5562, amy.coutee@pilotonline.com
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    Senior Member Array PaulG's Avatar
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    Simply amazing.

    These guys might be called Park Rangers, Supervisors or Santa Claus for all I care but the fact remains is that they function as LEO's.

    Part of what they do is to watch for problems, crime, etc. If they see a crime in progress, currently all they can do is call the local LEO's.

    Sounds much more effective to train them, arm them and provide an on site law enforcement presence.

    Ironically, this is like the LEO vs citizen argument in reverse. Citizen's with concealed carry permits can carry in those parks but the Park Rangers can't.

    I hope the judge is a thinking person.
    fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (resolutely in action, gently in manner).

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    The world is getting nastier by the day and these guys are in the middle of it...with no protection.

    Not smart.
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    Distinguished Member Array P7fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulG View Post
    Simply amazing.

    These guys might be called Park Rangers, Supervisors or Santa Claus for all I care but the fact remains is that they function as LEO's.

    Part of what they do is to watch for problems, crime, etc. If they see a crime in progress, currently all they can do is call the local LEO's.

    Sounds much more effective to train them, arm them and provide an on site law enforcement presence.

    Ironically, this is like the LEO vs citizen argument in reverse. Citizen's with concealed carry permits can carry in those parks but the Park Rangers can't.

    I hope the judge is a thinking person.
    Agreed, but...
    Who the heck is this 'Mayor Linda Johnson'?
    She wants a judge to 'legislate a law to authorize the park rangers to carry'.
    Bucks to pennies she's a democrat.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Unarmed city park: "Right now we have no means to protect ourselves or our visitors ..."
    Equal protection under the law. That same logic applies to all citizens, moreso in areas where people have been disarmed.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    So long as folks pass the law enforcement training requirements, it seems like a good thing. But, if that's side-stepped by a judge's edict and mayor's energy, it would present a whole host of problems. If that community can pay for beefing up the services in a responsible manner, great.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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