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Do California State Park Peace Officers patrol areas around/near state beaches/parks?

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  • Do California State Park Peace Officers patrol areas around/near state beaches/parks?

    I understand they are state peace officers, but some state beaches and parks are very small and don't see much activity. Do State Park Peace Officers ever assist outside agencies? Or patrol on normal roads looking for DUIs?

    Yes I know they the authority to make an arrest anywhere in California.

  • #2
    They do assist other agencies with incidents near their parks. They don't normally patrol off the park, but will often make stops while driving from one park to another or while off the park on other business. They also participate in multi-agency "maximum enforcement events" like DUI checkpoints on holidays and the like.

    State park rangers fill a more traditional "ranger" role at most parks. They often aren't exclusively law enforcement, so a lot depends on how LE oriented a particular ranger is.
    Last edited by tanksoldier; 12-16-2013, 07:40 PM.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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    • #3
      I was not with parks but I spent 32 years in state service and the rules are pretty much the same for most agencies.

      The state has many specialized law enforcement agencies and the issue you bring up is one that new officers probably have the most difficult understanding.

      Section 830.2 of the Penal Code says your authority as a peace officer extends to any part of the state. However, subsection (f) says your primary duty as a parks peace officer shall be the enforcement of the law as set forth in Section 5008 of the Public Resources Code. 5008 of the PRC talks about enforcing certain sections of the Harbor and Navigation Code, protecting Parks property included in the California recreational trail system and enforcing department rules and regulations.

      The Parks budget is created to pay for these functions, You are hired to perform these functions. Your salary is paid for you to carry out these functions and not to provide police services to another jurisdiction, which has its own budget and officers to provide police services for their city or county.

      That is not to say you must drive around with your blinders on and pretend you don’t see something if it occurs outside the park. Depending on your relationship with the locals, you will routinely back each other up. Similarly, if you supervisors are cool, they will let you routinely handle matters outside the park if you can reasonably show that they somehow pose a risk to the park system (i.e., are in keeping with your primary mission of protecting the park and its visitors).

      But the key is, if you devote too much time to things that have no relationship to your primary mission, it becomes a misuse of state resources, you may be accused of inexcusably neglecting your duties and the local cops will resent you for poaching on their turf.

      A good example is a DUI on the city streets. Where I'm at, it takles about 6 hours to arrest a DUI, inventory & tow his vehicle, draw blood, book him in the county jail and write the arrest report. If there are only two of you on duty in a small park, you will have lost 50% of your staffing and denied you partner any back up for most of the shift, all for something that has nothing to do with your primary mission. Several years ago the Attorney General issued an opinion stating that an officer cannot be ordered not to enforce the law outside of his area of primary mission, however, he can be disciplined if the amount of time spend doing so causes him to inexcusably neglect his duties.

      Most state agencies have a policy that if you come across something outside your area of primary responsibility you only do what is necessary to stabilize the matter until the locals can respond and take it over. On paper that sounds reasonable, however, if you do that for every traffic violation, family disturbance, or minor issue you come across, it creates the impression to your local peers that you are incompetent because in the time it took them to respond, you could have handled it yourself and gone on your way. OTOH, if you start handing such matters and not calling the locals, it looks like you are poaching and the next thing you know, their chief calls your chief.

      In short, you walk a delicate balance once you get out of the park.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        I completely agree. Its just that Ive noticed that some State beaches are small and see little activity.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wq View Post
          I completely agree. Its just that Ive noticed that some State beaches are small and see little activity.
          Many of the smaller state parks don't have rangers assigned full time, and many parks are close together... so several rangers cover all of the parks in the area.

          It may seem like overkill, but if you're going to have a department and rangers on duty you have to provide adequate coverage... you don't want one guy out by himself if you can avoid it, and you need to provide coverage for vacations and sick days.

          The issues mentioned with their primary responsibility are definitely true. However, often in rural areas a ranger or game warden may be the only back up available for CHP or local sheriff, and vice versa. Out in BFE game wardens may respond to traffic accidents, CHP may respond to domestic violence, local LE may respond to an incident on a park... often it depends on who is available.
          Last edited by tanksoldier; 12-16-2013, 08:53 PM.
          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

          Comment


          • #6
            Tank soldier is right – a lot is going to depend on where you are. Most state agencies enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the locals as to who will do what and with which and to whom. In the rural areas it is not unusual for Agency A to roll on Agency B’s calls by mutual agreement, just because they are so few and far between and specialized police agencies often find themselves in the roll of general duty officers. Everyone looks out for everyone else.

            However in the large metropolitan areas where there are multiple local officers on duty at any given time it’s pretty much as I mentioned.
            Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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            • #7
              thanks for the info

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              • #8
                State Parks Rangers have covered me at a lot of calls. Especially in one of our beats they are often the closest cover unit.
                Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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                • #9
                  We have a good working relationship with the DNR Police here, they back us up, we back them up.
                  The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                  I Am the Sheepdog.


                  "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                  that we are all that stands between
                  the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


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