Starting June 6th, Park Ranger hours will change so that there is no service after 8pm. Parks will continue to remain open until 10:30pm. Parks visitors needing assistance after 8pm will need to call the Office of Public Safety at 323-913-7390 and hope OPS has someone available.
This is another in a long list of questionable changes made by Rec and Parks management related to the Park Ranger Division that makes little sense from an administrative standpoint while simultaneously reducing constituent services that are already paper-thin.
Constituent services are the core mission of the Department of Recreation and Parks. When Park Rangers aren't in Griffith Park, the emergency responders who know their way around City parks best are missing from the first responder picture. This can have serious repercussions for parks visitors.
Here's a specific example of what can happen when this piece of the public safety plan has been removed.
This past March, on a weekend morning when Park Rangers aren't on duty any longer - another recent change - a call came in to 9-1-1 about a hiker in serious distress somewhere in Griffith Park. The caller was with the hiker and neither could state with certainty exactly where they were in the park. 9-1-1 and the LAFD called the Park Rangers to help them find the caller and got a recorded message. LAFD then called OPS. It is unknown as to why no one from OPS was immediately available to assist them.
LAFD looked in Griffith Park for the hiker for 30 minutes or more before they were waved down by a Department of Water and Power truck that had been doing work in the park. The DWP employees had just happened to come upon the hikers in Griffith and ended up being the ones to find LAFD and bring them to the location. OPS finally arrived at the location 40 minutes after they got the call, as paramedics were loading what turned out to be a possible heart attack victim into the ambulance and leaving for the nearest emergency ward.
No word on the condition of the hiker, however it is safe to say that a 30 minute response time is not optimum for survival in the case of a heart attack.
Weekends are the busiest times in City parks. But what about after 8pm?
Small fire, big LAFD response in Griffith Park May 30, 2010 | 7:47 amThe reason for the hours change being proffered by the Department right now is that there isn't sufficient peace officer Park Ranger supervision with the current schedule. However, the new schedule as it stood a few days ago simply moves the supervision gap around and does nothing to alleviate it, while simultaneously decreasing constituent service hours.
The Los Angeles Fire Department swarmed a small fire that broke out Saturday night in Griffith Park amid mild winds. The fire broke out at about 8:30 p.m. More than 50 firefighters converged on the area and battled the blaze for about an hour. An LAFD chopper made at least one water drop, according to the agency's Twitter feed. In the end, about half an acre burned, and no structures were damaged. The fire occurred at the end of a warm day that set several high-temperature records around Southern California. -- Shelby Grad
Seems like a whole lot of shuffling and smoke-blowing in the name of the City's budget crisis is going on in Rec and Parks with respect to Park Rangers while not a lot of proactive decisions are being made. Public services and public safety are certainly being compromised, though.
Sad as it is to say, it may take the serious injury or death of a park visitor to wake Rec and Parks up and convince it to correct the course.
Image credit: Mike Peters