At the beginning of July this year, a new law went into effect that prohibits park rangers in South Bend, Indiana from carrying a firearm while on duty. It was an unwelcome bit of news for those in the profession as rangers are responsible for patrolling more than 70 locations throughout South Bend and protecting recreational facilities, city parks, and historical sites all over that particular jurisdiction.
Many of these areas have proven unsafe and the protection of a firearm for the rangers has always been what many of them consider to be a necessity. Veterans of the profession who currently work or who have worked in that area have spoken out against the law saying that it creates a dangerous situation for the officers who have to go to work every day without a gun.
Members of the South Bend Common Council have received letters from park rangers, both current and retired, asking for a reason behind the decision to disallow firearms for officers in the area. Rangers and their representatives say that they should be allowed to carry a weapon so that they can protect the people who visit the parks in South Bend as well as protect themselves as they carry out their duties. The officers say that they will be forced to either remain in their vehicles when faced with a dangerous situation which will impede their ability to effectively handle it or they will have to put themselves in harm’s way.
Representatives from the City of South Bend have stated that park rangers are not trained and certified by the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and as such they do not have the power of arrest and for liability reasons they should not be allowed to carry guns.
Several park rangers have suggested that the new law may cause them to leave the profession.