Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cuyahoga Valley NP Week 7

Rangers and Troopers working together on DUI checkpoint

      This week was very exciting! It started with a DUI checkpoint with the help of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The Ohio State Highway Patrol does many DUI checkpoints, but only once before have they done it in the park. This was a great opportunity on both ends to go beyond the normal duties and do something bigger. The OSHP got the chance to work in the park, and the rangers got a chance to work on a DUI checkpoint, and see all the coordination and everything that goes into it, and learn the procedures to conduct one. I got the chance as well to see all this, and see just how a checkpoint does work because I have never seen one in action. One of the biggest things I learned was that the checkpoints are not set up with the intention of arresting as many people as possible, but they are set up to get public awareness about drunk driving and to make people think twice before drinking and driving. Working with the OSHP was a very neat experience and they were very helpful to me and told me about the work they do. We did not end up arresting anyone for drinking, but we did cite people for having drugs. The DUI checkpoint went very well, and it was a great experience for everyone. I learned a lot and was thrilled to have gotten the chance to talk with the OSHP. Thank you Ohio State Highway Patrol!

Vehicle search
      I also started working the night shift this week. I have been looking very forward to this! We start in the daytime when all the visitors are still around, but then as the sun sets most everyone leaves, and when it becomes dark the park has a totally different atmosphere. We still make friendly visitor assists throughout the day, and around dusk and into the night we drive around locking up, and checking out areas to look for damage, graffiti, and anything out of place.

     Ranger Swaggard made a fishing license check on a man fishing, and he ended up having drugs on him; or as we call it here, PCS- possession of controlled substance. I was able to get to the scene with a couple other rangers and watch how Swaggard carries out this situation. I watched as she searched the vehicle and how she and the other rangers handled contact with the man, calling everything into dispatch, calling to get the vehicle towed, and all the other actions to carry out the contact. It was a great experience to see how to handle things, especially because it started with what seemed to be a simple fishing license check but became so much more.  

Testing for drugs
     When we got back to the office Swaggard showed me what to do with the drugs and evidence. We weighed the drugs to see exactly how much it was, and then I got a chance to actually test the drug- marijuana with a test kit. The purple means positive, so it is marijuana! Then we tagged everything, put it in the appropriate envelopes, and dropped it into the evidence box. Swaggard went over all the proper procedures about sealing up the evidence so you know it is not tampered with, what to do if you have to go back and get something to do more testing or whatever the case is, and documenting everything. It was an exciting and educational day.

     We had some kids shooting off firework s on the fourth of July. Not only is it illegal to do in a park, but fireworks are also illegal in Ohio, so these kids knew better. Again it was great to see how a situation like this was handled, and the different options there are whether you want to give them a verbal warning, written warning, or citation. Talking to the ranger that cited them, it was interesting to see why he decided to carry out the citation. Officer discretion allowed him to weigh his options, and he decided to cite based on the amount of litter the kids were leaving behind. I think it is great for me to see why rangers decide to go one way or another with actions so I can see what other factors to take into consideration.

Another day Ranger Swaggard made contact with a dog of leash. The man turned out to have drugs on him, and he gave consent for the Ranger to search the vehicle. I again got to watch and see how Swaggard handled the situation and watch her conduct the vehicle search. This again was another example of how one visitor contact can lead into something else, so you must always be ready for anything.

This week was full of law enforcement action and I am so excited about being able to work the night shift! More adventures to come!

-Jackie Innella

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