South Bend Park Rangers no longer allowed to carry firearm while - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend Park Rangers no longer allowed to carry firearm while on patrol

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South Bend Park Rangers are now on patrol without a firearm South Bend Park Rangers are now on patrol without a firearm
South Bend Park Rangers are responsible for the protection of city parks, recreational facilities and historical sites throughout the city. As of July 1, they are no longer allowed to carry a gun while on duty. The officers have over 70 locations throughout South Bend they patrol.

This news was unsettling to David Hancock. He was a South Bend Park Officer, the name of the position before it was changed to Park Ranger, for a little over three years. "I can tell you if I were currently a park officer I wouldn't go to work. I would not feel safe," Hancock said. "It's creating a dangerous situation for those officers asking them to perform the same duties that I had but now without a weapon."

Hancock, with another former South Bend Park Officer, approached South Bend Common Councilwoman Valerie Schey about the change. She sent a letter to South Bend Deputy Mayor Mark Neal to ask for the reasoning behind the decision.

She feels the Park Rangers should be able to carry a gun in order to protect themselves and better protect the people in these parks. "One of two things is going to happen: either they will stay in their vehicles to keep themselves safe or they will put themselves in harms way and I don't want either one of those things happening," Schey said.

The city issued a statement saying, “Park Rangers are not Indiana Law Enforcement Academy trained and certified, and for liability reasons, they do not carry guns nor do they have arrest powers.”

"While I was there myself and another officer, we petitioned to get that certification," Hancock said. He says the petition was not addressed and that was one of the reasons he left the job.

Hancock may not be a Park Ranger now, but he still wants the current men and women in that position to have the proper equipment when they have to break up fights or approach belligerent and intoxicated people. "Without that firearm, without the authority to perform your duties it makes it that much more dangerous," Hancock said.

South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman was not available for a statement because he was in Indianapolis for the funeral of fallen Indianapolis Metro Police Officer Perry Renn. Deputy Mayor Mark Neal was also out of town to comment.

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