Law enforcement park rangers have undergone an extraordinary transformation since the late 1800s when U.S. Army soldiers protected wildlife from illegal hunters in Yellowstone National Park, and protected the resources in other national parks in the west.
Today, Law Enforcement Park Rangers belong to the “Visitor and Resource Protection Division” within the National Park Service. Modern Park Rangers might drive a patrol car, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a UTV, or pilot a boat almost anywhere in the United States.
Their duties vary depending upon which of the nearly 400 national parks they are assigned to. A park ranger’s typical duty day may require hiking the backcountry at Grand Canyon National Park on a rescue mission, flying over Big Bend National Park in Texas, or being out on boat patrol at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona.
So whether responding to a crime in progress, searching for a lost child, rendering CPR to a heart attack victim, or simply giving directions to visitors, Park Rangers assigned to national parks are well trained, well qualified and well equipped to serve and protect our visitors, as well as the national resource entrusted to their care.
Serve and Protect the Public and Protect Resources
- Protection of People
- Protection of Resources
- Protection of Property
Objectivity. All actions taken by commissioned employees will be directed toward accomplishing the mission of the NPS. Enforcement of the law is one method to achieve this goal, but it is not a goal unto itself. Commissioned employees must appreciate and understand both the spirit and letter of the law.
Adaptability. Law enforcement operations within the NPS offer as many unique assignments as there are areas within the system. It is essential that every commissioned employee develop the confidence and flexibility necessary to adjust to the different attitudes and procedures that exist from area to area. They should be able to cultivate the support and cooperation of the public in the Service’s operations. Citizen approval is essential to an effective program.
Integrity. Public respect is essential to any law enforcement activity. In order to earn this respect, the commissioned employee must enforce the law impartially. The employee’s private life should be free from scandal and suspicion that would result in public criticism.
Versatility. NPS commissioned employees are much more than just enforcers of the law. They are protectors of park resources and the public welfare. They must possess the ability to perform all other protection duties and they must be adept in all the facets of visitor use management and resource protection required by their current assignment.
Compatibility. The role of the commissioned employee is just one of numerous employee roles, all directed toward accomplishing the same mission. They must have the capacity to understand the purposes and functions of other NPS activities and must be able to work in concert with others in the pursuit of common goals.