The appearance of the first returning redwing blackbirds is a signal that spring is upon us and that our Genesee County Parks will soon be filled with winter-weary families eager to picnic and to toss Frisbees and to walk through the woods without heavy coats and boots. As the parks get busy, I am reminded of all the behind-the-scenes work our Genesee County Park rangers do to help keep your parks safe and welcoming.
I say, “behind the scenes” because unless you’ve needed the assistance of a ranger, you probably don’t know the huge scope of activities they are involved in at the parks each year. You know them as the good guys you can go to when you lock your keys in your car, when your son gets stung by a bee and you’re worried that he may have an allergic reaction, and when a group of young kids hanging out at a park needs a bit of corralling.
You are right…they are the good guys, and they are even better than you know.
For starters, there’s their training. Every one of our Genesee County Park rangers is a police officer, trained to assess and act. They are professionals, and among their greatest assets is the ability to size up a situation quickly and accurately and to respond appropriately.
Then there’s their experience. Our county park rangers have a combined total of roughly 2,000 years of experience. Several have been police officers for more than 30 years, and many work as officers in municipalities when they aren’t on duty in the parks. They like their work, and they are very good at what they do.
They are ready. Each park ranger is outfitted with several pounds of equipment designed to assist you and to protect you and to protect themselves and the parks. When they have to enforce the law, they can and they will, and they will do it fairly. Every year they arrest people who disregard park rules and break the law and remove them from the parks so that your visit will be as much fun as you’re hoping for.
Perhaps what distinguishes our Genesee County Park rangers most is that they are a premier example of an effective community policing program. They build relationships with people in the parks so they know what’s going on around them. They know the groups that can be volatile. They recognize the issues that can spark trouble. They are pros at problem solving and they know how to head off situations before they escalate. Our rangers expect good behavior in the parks, and they strategically manage tens of thousands of visitors each year to achieve it.
That’s what I mean by “behind the scenes.”
Being a Genesee County Park ranger is a very specialized line of work. That’s why their training, their experience, their equipment and their commitment are key to the success of their work. I have complete confidence in our Genesee County Park rangers. They are a stellar team, and they make us proud. Next time you’re enjoying the parks, find a ranger and tell ‘em thanks.