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Crime Strikes Our National Parks

Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM

United States Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police in 2003 issued a groundbreaking report, "The Ten Most Dangerous National Parks."

In this announcement, national parks are rated based upon their dangers to National Park Service rangers. According to the Department of Justice, park rangers are the most assaulted of all federal law enforcement officers.

Here are some highlights from their startling list:

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, which is located on our "busted" southern border, was reported as the most dangerous national park for the second year in a row. This was due to numerous incidents involving international drug trafficking, the inflow of illegal immigrants, and a workforce that is understaffed to safely manage the problem. The park also reported that drug and immigrant smugglers had created miles of illegal roads in the park.

Even more heartbreaking was the August 2002 ambush and murder of Kristopher Eggle, a 28-year-old park ranger, who was shot to death assisting Border Patrol agents trying to apprehend a Mexican murder suspect who had fled into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Eggle, sadly, was the third park ranger shot to death since 1998. For more information on Kristopher Eggle and his brutal slaying, log on to www.kriseggle.org.

In Texas, Big Bend National Park is a million-acre park with well over 100 miles of international border that has significant problems with drug smuggling, illegal immigrants and organized plant and animal poachers.

Also in Texas is the Padre Island National Seashore. Drug smuggling, illegal immigrants, the poaching of endangered turtles and their eggs, and unlawful commercial fishing pose a threat to the park's resources, its visitors and the rangers themselves. In addition, the lack of timely backup for officers in trouble, and sometimes erratic radio communications, are issues at this location.

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona has ongoing gang activity, and vast areas of backcountry have only cursory patrols. There are fewer park rangers working this year than last, and some of those who remain have been rotated out to provide security at the dams.

In New Jersey, Sandy Hook is a unit of the Gateway East National Recreation Area, with about 2.5 million annual visitors. There are fewer park rangers than there were ten years ago, yet there are more serious incidents for the remaining rangers to handle.

For more information, please log on to: www.rangerfop.com.

In addition, an August 2005 report by Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER) stated, "Threats, harassment and attacks against National Park Service rangers and U.S. Park Police officers reached a new record in 2004."

The PEER report went on to declare:

"Chronically understaffed NPS law enforcement is facing growing homeland security needs and increasingly violent situations with static resources and little agency support. National Park Service-commissioned law enforcement officers were victims of assaults 111 times in 2004, nearly a third of which resulted in injury. This figure tops the 2003 total of 106 assaults and the 2002 total of 98. Law enforcement work in the National Park Service is the most dangerous in federal service. National Park Service officers are 12 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of an assault than FBI agents. Overall, NPS law enforcement has a morbidity rate triple that of the next worst federal agency."

For more information on this PEER report, go to www.peer.org.

These unsung federal law enforcement heroes may sometimes have to do their urgent duties without the ideal staffing levels, reliable radio communications, nearby backup, comprehensive training and modern equipment that most other law officers probably take for granted.

Let's give the men and women law enforcement professionals of the National Park Service what they need, and deserve, to help safeguard our nation's treasured parklands and irreplaceable precious natural resources.

(Note: If you manufacture or distribute any Security, Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Defense or Crime Prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.)

Copyright 2005 by Bruce Mandelblit

"Staying Safe" with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine.

Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

Bruce is a nationally known security journalist as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve Law Enforcement Officer.

Bruce writes Staying Safe, a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention.

Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel -– the state's highest honor -– for his public service.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.


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United States Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police in 2003 issued a groundbreaking report, "The Ten Most Dangerous National Parks." In this announcement, national parks are rated based upon their dangers to National Park Service rangers.According to the...
Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM
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