...it seems irresponsible for Recreation and Parks to start a new Interpretive program which prioritizes interpretive work at the expense of public safety and visitor services.
The Department of Recreation and Parks employs Park Rangers with law enforcement powers, and Park Rangers without . Both categories of Rangers work together to patrol the City's regional parks, provide visitor assistance and directions, and naturalist services but most importantly work together to respond to fire, rescue and medical calls as part of the City's first responder network.
Rangers without police powers do not do law enforcement work but provide the full range of the other essential Ranger services. For example they provide about half of the staffing for the Ranger's eight pieces of fire fighting equipment.
Recently the Department of Recreation and Parks announced that the Rangers without police powers, about half of the patrol force will be transferred from general patrol duty to a newly created "Interpretive Education Unit" effective November 8, 2009.
The Rangers operate with a skeleton crew due to budget cuts, and the impact of this change will mean that at times there will be no rangers on patrol duty to respond to emergency calls, or to help park visitors.
For example during the high winds and extreme fire danger this week, the non-law enforcement Rangers staffed the Ranger's fire engines; without these Rangers the fire engines would not have been staffed.
The Department of Recreation and Parks states that the non-law enforcement Rangers will still be available for emergency duty, but the assignment to this "Interpretive Unit" and hours of work will preclude their routine or rapid response to emergencies. In essence they will be out of the public safety business.
During these times of lean budgets, when they cannot afford to hire more Rangers it seems irresponsible for Recreation and Parks to start a new Interpretive program which prioritizes interpretive work at the expense of public safety and visitor services.
-Someone who knows