I raised our flag this morning, and then somberly lowered it to half-staff. Our badges have had a black band placed over them to signify mourning. You’ve heard the tragic news that a national park ranger has been shot dead in the line of duty; it affects every one of us in the NPS family.
I have nothing but admiration for law enforcement rangers. Those with whom I’ve had the privilege of working for these three seasons have been not only courageous, but professional, prepared, and personable. They handle everything that comes their way. They are cognizant that a routine traffic stop could turn violent, even fatal; they are trained to act as if it will. The park ranger who was killed never even had a chance to exit her vehicle.
According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers suffer the most number of felonious assaults, and the highest number of homicides of all federal law enforcement officers. Could you go to work each day knowing statistics like that?
Hug a park ranger today. Tell them how much you value their contributions. Pray for their safety.
P.S. to family/friends who may worry about me: we interpretive rangers, the kind who don’t carry a gun, who specialize in education rather than enforcement, do not encounter volatile situations nearly as often as protection rangers do. Confrontations in my line of work generally revolve around entrance fees, dogs on the trails, parking issues, and other low-stakes situations.