With more than 30 parks in Binghamton, New York, the city’s mayor was concerned about public safety, so the city subsequently hired three more park rangers for the 2015 summer season. That is when most families use the parks, and Mayor Richard David had heard concerns about drug use and youths fighting at some of the parks during his campaign.
These new hires bring the number of Binghamton park rangers up to five. The city’s park ranger program is fairly new and was launched in 2014. In addition to providing an overall presence in the parks, Binghamton’s park rangers enforce leash laws, rules on smoking and alcohol consumption, and leaving the parks at dusk.
The park rangers concentrate their patrols on the most heavily used parks as well as ones where special events are being held. Two rangers patrol from 11:30 AM – 10 PM during the week, and the city adds a third ranger from Thursdays to Sundays. These law enforcement officers work in concert with the Binghamton Police Department and have radios, so they can contact the police if needed.
Binghamton’s 2015 budget included $14,210 for the park rangers, and the program receives additional funds from a Community Development Block Grant. In addition, the Binghamton Police Department got about $22,000 in grant funding to increase park patrols during the evening hours. Funding for Binghamton’s park rangers extends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The city was able to find stellar candidates for the positions, since four of the park rangers are currently enrolled at a local criminal justice program. Another of the rangers already has a criminal justice degree.
Visiting the local parks might be the only summer recreational opportunity available to some of the city’s children, and the city is dedicated to ensuring they have a safe environment to do so.