Scaled-back plans to arm park rangers Speakers differ on whether guns aid park safety

photo by Karen LasloElaina McReynolds

photo by Karen Laslo

Elaina McReynolds

by Dave Waddell

A proposal to turn Bidwell Park’s three rangers into Chico police officers was scaled back Tuesday to arming just two of them as cops and having the third ranger work to bolster park volunteerism.

The so-called “hybrid” plan, outlined by Chris Constantin, assistant city manager, drew mixed reactions from members of the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, as well as mostly skepticism from citizens who spoke at a public hearing.

In an oddity at such hearings, one speaker, Dan Everhart, was interrupted twice during his brief testimony by commissioners who disagreed with his comments – first, pointedly, by Tom Nickell and a second time by Jeffrey Glatz. Commission Chair Marisa Stoller reminded commissioners that the purpose of the hearing was to receive public comments, and Glatz later apologized.

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Police-the-park plan is a “fork in the road” Public safety, park rangers and disposable people

photo by Karen LasloSome rangers are not interested in undergoing police training.

photo by Karen Laslo

Some rangers are not interested in undergoing police training.

by Steve Breedlove

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face forever” – George Orwell.

At this moment, Chico’s unelected city bureaucrats are in the process of moving Park Rangers into the Police Department, arming them and sidelining their function as naturalists and stewards of our recreational commons. Apparently, “broken windows” enforcement of minor infractions is the preferred method of addressing very real and material social problems.

In a public hearing (April 24 Parks Commission), the assistant city manager tried to deflect the dissent of citizens in attendance, advising us that the Council had not approved it. Curiously, he also argued it was imperative to set Police Academy dates this calendar year.

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