Here to Help

8/10/2022

Their bright green uniforms do more than simply set the Farmington Park Rangers apart from the other uniformed officers of the Farmington Police Department. It ensures that the officers are easy to spot along the river walk or in any of Farmington’s municipal parks - whether you’re in need of their assistance or you simply want to chat. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Ace Hardware of Farmington and CMIT Solutions.

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If you've taken a walk through any of Farmington's parks or along the river trail, chances are you've seen one of the park patrol riding along on their bikes, or stopped over to answer a question or give directions. Working in partnership with the Farmington Police Department, the Farmington Park Rangers assist with keeping the park safe and creating connections with people along the way. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by ACE Hardware of Farmington and CMIT Solutions. I'm Hayley Opsel.

Our biggest role is community relations. Our officers are pretty busy, they don't really have time to do the community policing that, you know, we would like to see. So we kind of fill that gap. We're on the ground for the officers. So we are in the parks if anything arises, if there's issues, or there's safety issues. We are in businesses. So one of the greatest things about our jobs is we literally get paid to go to a business and chit chat with them, drink a cup of coffee, have breakfast.

The park rangers provide a bridge between community members and the police, helping to educate park users of the rules and to encourage people to follow those rules to ensure everyone's safety. Wearing bright yellow uniforms and riding their bikes, officers aren't hard to spot. Six park rangers work in Farmington Municipal Parks, and along the River Walk. The officers respond to non-violent calls to free up police officers to respond to more urgent calls that come through the system.

Yeah, so it does. It frees officers to go to priority calls. So if we have a bad car accident, we have violent calls, drug related calls, they're not here. Our River Walk, end-to-end, is almost five miles, it's like 4.8. And so for one, they don't really know the area. So it's hard to dictate them where they need to go. So, us being in here, we change that, we separate that, so they can prioritize what's important for the safety of our city. And we still do safety for the city, we just do it in a different aspect, a lot more in the community to do policing.

The Park Ranger program is relatively new, but the community already has seen the positive impacts of the program. The jobs are popular too, with only six positions, and openings are filled quickly. Officers do have to take a cycling course to learn how to safely navigate areas where pedestrians are the majority. But a park ranger has to know more than how to come to a safe stop abruptly.

[Officer Gallegos] You know, our citizens generally love us, they generally like being around us. You know, they're always trying to buy us meals, which we, you know, we deny, we don't need, but it's because we have programs like ours. It's not only us rangers, we also have other community orientated divisions, and ours is just, ours is the best one. And I want to say that because we have the best job in town. We really do.

Park Rangers put on the Farmington PD at the lake event earlier this summer. And the current success of the program suggests a few more years of growth and expansion to come. To learn more about the Park Ranger Program, or Farmington Police Department, visit them on the Farmington police department's Facebook page, or look for them and any of Farmington's parks. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Hayley Opsel.

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