Posted by: rmorrisey | March 10, 2007

A Day in the Life of A Law Enforcement Ranger

These recent entries from the National Park Service Morning Report (aka as the Ranger Report) will give you an idea of what a law enforcement park ranger has to deal with.

Dry Tortugas National Park/Everglades National Park – FL
Cuban Migrant Landings Increase In Parks

Three separate landings by Cuban migrants took place in the two parks during the last week of February:

  • February 23rd – Dry Tortugas rangers received a report around 7:30 a.m. that 21 Cubans had landed on Loggerhead Key. They were transferred to a Coast Guard cutter about 12 hours later, then taken to Key West.
  • February 24th – Around 2 p.m., Everglades rangers were advised of migrants on Cape Sable and subsequently found 46 Cubans at that location. The rangers transported them by boat to Flamingo, where they were turned over to the Border Patrol.
  • February 28th – Thirty-five Cuban migrants landed on Loggerhead Key in the evening. The Coast Guard picked them up the next morning and took them to Key West.

So far this year, 121 Cuban migrants have made “dry foot” in Dry Tortugas NP. The Cuban Readjustment Act, also know as the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy, allows Cuban migrants to remain in the United States if they make it to U.S. soil. Dry Tortugas has been dealing with the Cuban migrant issue since 2004. Over that period, more than 1700 migrants have landed in the park. These landings are significant park events and require considerable staff and time to handle due to the logistics of coordinating transportation and transfer to DHS. [Submitted by Bonnie Foist, Chief Ranger]  

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Snowboarder Rescued From Backcountry

Rangers, county SAR personnel and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol staff rescued a backcountry snowboarder late on the afternoon of February 28th after he became stranded on a cliff in Granite Canyon. Timothy Cator, 27, from the United Kingdom but currently living in Norway, entered the park’s backcountry from the resort with three companions, intending to snowboard out-of-bounds from the resort. Cator became stranded on a cliff in the Northwest Passage area and was unable to climb back up or continue boarding down. Cator was in voice contact with his companions, who descended into Endless Couloir, and their conversation caught the attention of an off-duty ski patroller who was in the vicinity at the time. The ski patrolman used his cell phone to call for assistance. Three Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrollers picked up a rope and technical gear at their rescue cache before skiing to the Northwest Passage area. One patrolman was lowered down to Cator’s position, placed a climbing harness on him, then lowered Cator over the short cliff to a point where he could safely traverse back into Endless Couloir. The rope was then tied off and the patrolman rappelled off the same point. The traverse out of Granite Canyon back to Teton Village is relatively flat with a few uphill sections. Exiting the canyon with a tired snowboarder in unconsolidated snow — and the increased exposure time spent crossing run out zones of several avalanche paths — prompted the decision to use the Teton County contract helicopter to expedite the final stage of Cator’s rescue. Additional factors taken into consideration for using a helicopter evacuation included the lateness of the day, approaching weather, and considerable avalanche danger. Rangers were able to use the same helicopter landing zone in Granite Canyon that had been packed down for the rescue of an avalanche victim on the previous Sunday. Cator and his companions were unaware of avalanche conditions in Granite Canyon, were not carrying any avalanche gear with them, and were unfamiliar with the area and the complex avalanche terrain in which they intended to snowboard. They were also unprepared for the relatively flat trail that skiers traverse to return to Teton Village as they exit the Granite Canyon area. [Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IN)
Attempted Suicide, Life Saved

On the afternoon of February 25th, rangers received a notice to be on the lookout for a missing woman from the nearby town of Portage. The woman had called her husband from an unidentified parking lot and threatened suicide. To emphasize her threat, she used her cellular phone camera to photograph slash marks on her wrist and sent them to her husband. Rangers began checking parking lots within the park. Within minutes of receiving the call, ranger Bill Tadych spotted the woman as she was driving out of the Mount Baldy parking lot and pulled her over. He found a seven-inch-long steak knife and numerous bottles of prescription medicines – including sleeping pills – inside the car. The woman was taken into protective custody and admitted to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. It was later determined that she had indeed intended to end her life. [Submitted by Mike Bremer, Chief Ranger]

Natchez Trace Parkway (AL,MS,TN)
Arrest Of Multiple Offender

On the evening of March 2nd, ranger John Hearne and field trainee ranger Tom Holmes (Independence NHP) were assisting Lee County officers at a traffic safety checkpoint on a county road that intersects with the parkway. One of the drivers – Jamie Hines, 30 – was selected for additional screening. Hines failed each of his sobriety tests, recording a .202 on a preliminary breath test. Holmes moved to arrest Hines for DUI, but Hines broke free as he was being handcuffed and fled. A foot chase ensued. Hines eventually found himself trapped in a deep excavation project next to the parkway. After a brief standoff, he surrendered to the rangers and county deputies, who took him into custody. Hines, who has an extensive criminal history, including several felonies and current warrants against him from other jurisdictions, is facing seven counts, ranging from DUI to failure to obey lawful orders. Given his previous history, Hines is still in custody of U.S. marshals. This was Holmes’s eleventh arrest since he has been training on the parkway. [Submitted by Allen S. Etheridge, Chief Ranger]

OK, still think you want to be a law enforcement ranger?  You may want to consider buying the Park Ranger Career Handbook to learn more about the profession, qualification requirements and how to get the required training. 



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