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(CA) Ruling bars rangers from guns

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Drizzt, Aug 10, 2004.

  1. Drizzt

    Drizzt Well-Known Member

    Ruling bars rangers from guns

    By Mark Prado, IJ reporter

    Officers say Mt. Tam patrols are dangerous without protection
    A recent court ruling means rangers who patrol 22,000 acres of land on Mount Tamalpais cannot carry firearms while they make their rounds, investigating everything from calls about gunshots to marijuana plots.

    "It's remote and we are usually up there alone, yet we have no protection," said Jackson Barker, a Marin Municipal Water District ranger. "It's a public safety issue and personal safety issue.

    "We don't have that deterrent anymore," he said, noting rangers were ordered to turn in their firearms 18 months ago.

    The MMWD rangers - who now total seven - were deputized by then Sheriff G. Albert Howenstein in 1980 in light of a series of murders in rural parts of the county. Serial killer David Carpenter, known as the Trailside Killer, was arrested the next year and sentenced to death.

    The rangers continued to carry revolvers until February 2003, when a management firm conducting an audit on behalf of the district questioned whether the district is allowed to have park rangers serve as peace officers under state law.

    Marin Superior Court Judge John Sutro ruled recently the rangers could not be deemed "peace officers" by the water district. Such a designation can be made by the state Legislature.

    The ruling means Barker and other rangers must patrol unarmed.

    "If you are wearing a weapon someone is going to be less likely to start something with you than if you are not wearing weapon," said Barker, who has been a district ranger for five years. "There is a security there."

    The rangers have to deal with a variety of circumstances, not only potentially violent disputes, but wildlife issues. Last year a bear was spotted on the mountain, and mountain lions lurk there as well, Barker said. The threat of terrorism has added security of the district's publicly accessible reservoirs to their watch.

    "Basically we have nothing except for Mace," Barker said, "and that doesn't work too well when the wind is blowing."

    The president of the MMWD board said the agency is considering asking for special legislation to allow rangers to carry firearms, although a final decision hasn't been made.

    "The public should be reassured that the county sheriffs have authority on our land," president Alex Forman said. "It's not like no one is there to help."

    But Barker noted sheriffs deputies often have to come from far away and are unfamiliar with MMWD lands.

    "How can we respond if another Trailside Killer makes an appearance?" Barker asked board directors at a meeting last month. "The badge and the uniform lead people to expect we can and will intercede when they need help."

    Some water districts in the state have the authority to have peace officers on staff as a result of special legislation.

    In Marin, none of the county's park or open space rangers carry weapons or have peace officer status, while all of the Point Reyes National Seashore's rangers and a contingent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area rangers function as peace officers.

    Aside from the Trailside killer case, there have been other instances of violence on Marin's public lands.

    Kenneth Patrick was the first U.S. park ranger murdered in the line of duty when he was shot by deer poachers in the Point Reyes National Seashore in 1973.

    Three men went to Point Reyes to hunt deer with a crossbow and when Patrick, 40, shined his flashlight into their car, he was shot three times.

    MMWD general manager Paul Helliker said he expects a resolution to the issue soon.

    "We'd like to solve this problem and make sure the watershed is protected," he said.

  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    I'm sure I'll always miss the temperate climate and the beaches.
  3. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Well-Known Member

    More idiocy from California :banghead: How about the current Sheriff just deputize 'em?
  4. WonderNine

    WonderNine member

    That's too bad, if they wanna go armed they should join with the rest of the Californians who are working to change the law. I don't believe there's any "deputized" hikers walking around there either.
  5. TallPine

    TallPine Well-Known Member

    WildAlaska, you need to show this guy the error of his thinking ....:neener:

  6. joab

    joab Well-Known Member

    Volusia County sheriff's dept has authority in Deltona, and they did an excellant job of investigating the murders after the fact.
  7. sendec

    sendec member

    Points of Clarification

    U.S Park Rangers suffered their first homicide late in the 1800's, I dont have my reference in front of my but I beleive it was in Yosemeite and also involved poachers.

    Natural resources LEOs face all the same dangers that big city cops and rural deputies do, and then some. The idea of disarming these guys and girls is ludicrous. While they may not be peace officers and may not need the "powers" that that delegates, as watershed rangers they play a significant if under-appreciated role in homeland security, when it comes to protecting water and power supplies for terrorist or other criminal attack
  8. George S.

    George S. Well-Known Member

    Here in WA the Dept of Wildlife (Fish and Game) enforcement officers not only are armed, but they have nearly full LEO authority including the authority to write traffic tickets on all state and US highways.

    Guess I can't even comprehend any reasoning why CA would hamstring the people who have to protect the land and the citizens who visit the parks and back country. I feel sad for the rangers and the citizens.

    At some point, some rangers will die as a result of violent action by not being able to defend themselves. The government bureaucrats in CA needs to realize that what they are doing is setting up these people as potential targets. Hopefully the citizens of CA will wake up to the fact that criminals will eventually run the state and the people will be powerless against them. The only way to fix this is at the polls.
  9. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

    They could just

    change their status to armed security and have them qualify as security guards, I think they would have done that allready but they probably enjoyed peace officer status before,and could carry concealed off duty and buy cool guns that S/O's can't.

    After having LEO status it must be difficult to go to armed S/O
  10. molonlabe

    molonlabe Well-Known Member

    standing wolf
    I'm sure I'll always miss the temperate climate and the beaches.


    So will I, Maryland is a garden of feedom compared to PRK.
  11. Denko

    Denko Well-Known Member

    Maybe they will get behind the idea that every person should be able to arm themselves for protection.I do miss the beaches,don't miss the anti gun politicians/police.When I lived there the sheriff was very anti gun,at least for the common folk.
  12. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

    lots of mtn lion

    bears are coming back and the most dangerous animal of all
    homo-sapiens are all over the place.

    lots of folk out in those parks carry anyway.
  13. Shalako

    Shalako Well-Known Member

    Mt Tam is a great place to hike, bike and relax in nature. Look over the whole San Francisco bay and skyline. Grab some cool lemonade up at the West Point Inn and just chill before climbing the rest of the way to the summit. But that is the problem. Marinites just want to chill and not think about the realities of the other 99.999% of the world that isn't filthy stinking rich and may have to deal with crime and whackos. They want to chill and relax in their gucci bicycle spandex outside sipping lattes and imagine the whole world works for Industrial Light and Magic like they do. If they see a gun it brings on the stark contrast with their living fantasy life and just harshes their aura. We can't have that now. Maybe it's just that the guns eminate bad energy and cause normal people to become violent felons and do bad stuff. Man what a bummer. They need to keep the bad energy and poor people out of Marin for heaven's...er, gaia's sake. "No guns for our cops! We're better than that. Heck if someone act's up, we'll just sue them!"

    [/editorial rant] Ok, not all folks from Marin are chumps, and a few of great quality post here, I just can't help but notice a trend when I hang out there.
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Well-Known Member

    It appears the conflict is over the rangers' authority to be peace officers. The Director of Parks and Recreation (state) can designate persons to be peace officers. Mount Tamalpais is a state park.

    The problem seems to be that the deputization by the sheriff in 1980 isn't sufficient or permanent, especially for Marin Municipal Water District rangers.

    California requires an entry in the state penal code authorizing government entities to designate peace officers. Apparently the Marin Municipal Water District is not one of those government entities so empowered.

  15. Shalako

    Shalako Well-Known Member

    Well, huh. I guess there is some logic involved afterall. Thanks Pilgrim.

    Its hard not to be perpetually suspicious of those lefties though.... Its kind of a social/political condition yellow.
  16. c_yeager

    c_yeager Well-Known Member

    I wonder what would happen if i made this exact same statement to a ranger in that area...
  17. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Well-Known Member

    A typical reason we fled ********** as soon as I retired there in 2003, though we dearly love the sceneryand would prefer to live there.

    Interestingly, ********** does have a CCW law, but prevents many officers from carrying openly. One wonders if they would be allowed to carry concealed weapons? Probably not, if they asked...but why ask? If one really feels in danger, one could carry concealed, and face the music...plead misunderstanding...after an incident. Better to be alive and in trouble than dead or maimed...

    One thing that infuriated us about living in ********** was their pride that the (crazy) things they do are obviously admirable and will be the model for the rest of the nation...! Like the poorly-thought out restrictions on energy producers that resulted in their energy debacle, and the exceedingly stringent standards on gasoline formulation that make their gasoline prices so much more expensive than the rest of the nation...and their toleration of a multitude of very aggressive homeless in downtown San Francisco that DEMAND handouts...and you've just GOT to see one of the "Dykes on Bikes" parades! All of which they are so proud of! Don't get me started!!!!
  18. Ellery Holt

    Ellery Holt Well-Known Member

    Ha ha! Tallpine, you beat me to it. That's exactly what I thought when I read that sentence.

  19. Ransom

    Ransom Well-Known Member

    Sadly it will take someone being killed and the Sheriffs arriving hours later for this moron to understand the flaw in his logic.
  20. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

    you got that right Ransom!

    The Sherriff will help-help write a report after the crime.

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