Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 12 p.m.
If you haven’t noticed, the City of Spokane is beefing up its public safety presence around our parks and pools.
“We saw that there was a greater need for law enforcement type services in the parks beyond just Riverfront. So in collaboration with the Spokane Police department, we determined there is a real need to transition from just focusing on one, to all of our parks,” said Justin Worthington, Park Ranger Supervisor.
Park Rangers should not be confused with security guards. Rangers pack radios, handcuffs, Tasers and pocketful of verbal Judo.
In select parks, rangers operate under a special police commission that gives them the authority to make arrests for a variety of misdemeanors.
“It’s different from security in the sense that we’re not just telling people not to do things, we’re actually taking law enforcement action under our police commission,” explained Worthington.
Park Rangers also have the authority to temporarily ban people from park property for bad behavior.
For example, in August, rangers banned a 12-year-old from city pools for the rest of the summer for his repeated rude and crude behavior. However, rangers try not to exclude park visitors if there appears to be other options.
“A lot of times, it can just be a conversation and we can reduce or get rid of an issue before anything even happens,” Worthington said.
And that’s where those verbal Judo skills come into play.
Rangers had a group of people, who spent the night in the Coeur d’ Alene Park gazebo, up and moving in minutes, just by showing them a little courtesy.
“It wasn’t a conversation about taking enforcement, writing tickets, excluding people or anything like that. It was an explanation of the ordinance, why this has an impact and, what we can do to help them,” Worthington said of his discussion with the campers.
The ordinance, known as H-1, bans using park property for an activity it wasn’t designed for, like camping in a bathroom.
However, that does not keep rangers from trying to help people who obviously need help.
“Several of our rangers have bought food for people who are hungry. We even had one ranger who took off his own socks and provided them to somebody, in the middle of the winter, who didn’t even have shoes,” Worthington recalled.
Rangers are also patrolling parks in your neighborhood, enforcing curfew and parking violations in popular late night hangouts.
Rangers can do everything. From giving directions to giving C-P-R.
So far this year, Park Rangers have responded to more than 52 hundred calls for service.
Rangers want a reputation for being fair, firm and consistent with everyone.
“And that’s really the important ingredient for making sure that we’re successful and safe. We’re getting results by just using our voice,” Worthington said proudly.