Friday, August 9, 2013

Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Week 11

ProRangers and followers,

This week at Cape Hatteras I continued to work a variety of shifts with several members of the Law Enforcement staff. Throughout the week I was scheduled to work both the early shift, and the late afternoon "swing" shift. I enjoy working both of these shifts due to the diverse nature of the calls and incidents that occur  outside of normal business hours. As the summer progresses, I have been able to work a variety of shifts and have been able to see the differences between the many duty schedules. Each shift requires a slightly different set of skills and forces you to use your all of your senses to effectively patrol the park. This is an awesome challenge, and keeps you thinking throughout the entire shift.

On the first shift of the week I was back with Ranger Krebs. Since this was an early shift, we immediately made our way to the beach in order to check for night driving violations. On this day there were no signs of night drivers, which shows the effectiveness of recent patrols in the area. After checking the beaches and ramp access areas, we continued to patrol the park and check with incoming staff to gather information from the previous night. During our morning patrol, we decided to note a few of the missing signs in the park. Reports had already been filed for these missing signs, but they had yet to be replaced.

After identifying the needed signage, Rangers Krebs and I headed to the maintenance garage sign cache to pick up new signs. One of the signs required basic assembly,and then we were ready to install the new markers. With the assistance of the Cape Hatteras Fire Crew, we transported the sign to its location and used a post-hole digger to secure the sign in the ground. Then, we took the second replacement sign to its location and installed it on a preexisting post.

After installing the needed signage, we reported to the Hatteras Island Ranger Station to complete a few administrative tasks as well as test a few pieces of essential equipment. Each month, the AED's (Automated External Defibrillators) and PBT's (Preliminary Breath Test) must be tested and calibrated for safe and accurate operation. Ranger Krebs allowed me to test these devices, as he taught be the proper testing procedure. While in the office, I also completed required annual training via DOI Learn and reviewed other administrative paperwork.

On my second day of the work week, I was assigned to another early shift with Ranger Malionek. We began our shift by checking all of the beaches in the Hatteras District, and surveying the park for any overnight problems. During one of our trips to the Ramp 43 ORV area, Ranger Malionek and I observed a vehicle driving erratically over the beach features at an unsafe speed. Upon investigation, the occupants of the vehicle admitted to operating the vehicle in a way that was dangerous to the surrounding public, and caused damage to the resource. As a result of our investigation, the vehicles ORV permit was revoked and the driver received a citation.

Later in the day, Ranger Malionek received a third party report of a disturbance on the beach involving a fisherman and neighboring beach goers. We responded to this report and talked to both parties in order to understand the situation. In sum, the reporting party was upset that a fisherman was engaging in fishing in the area of their beach set-up, and they were fearful that swimmers would get caught in the fishing line. After hearing both sides of the disagreement, it was clear that neither party needed to be removed from the area. Ranger Malionek explained that both parties had an equal right to use the beach, and gave them each the option of continuing their beach activities.

This call served as an excellent reminder that the reporting party is not always completely innocent. It is the Ranger's job to gather all of the facts and to  decide who is at fault, and if any violation has been committed. In some instances, the reporting party may have just happened to call law enforcement before the other involved persons. The information given by the caller may not necessarily be indicative if what is actually occurring on scene. Once the officer arrives, they must make their own observations and piece together all of the available information.
 On the final two days of the week, I was back with Ranger Krebs working the "swing" shift. On Saturday, I began the day by taking the ferry service to Ocracoke Island in order to transport a vehicle back our Ranger Station. This summer has been especially tough on LE vehicles at the park, so we have had to lend and borrow vehicles from other districts within the park. After finishing the transport, Ranger Krebs and I patrolled the beaches and checked for ORV Permits. Due to the large volume of vehicles on the beaches, we decided to pay close attention to the ramp access areas.

During one of our patrols near Ramp 49, we observed a vehicle travelling over the speed limit. After initiating a traffic stop on the vehicle, Ranger Krebs conducted Standard Field Sobriety Tests, Horizonal Gaze Nystagmus, and a Preliminary Breath Test. These tests indicated that the driver of the vehicle had a Blood Alcohol level above the legal limit of .08. Ranger Krebs placed the individual into custody, and prepared to transport him to the office for processing. During this time, a second Ranger arrived on scene and helped secure the vehicle and explain the situation to the other occupant. At this time, Ranger Krebs transported the individual to the office, and the second Ranger transported the passenger to a nearby campsite. Due to malfunctioning door locks, the involved vehicle could not be fully secured. In turn, I was responsible for staying with the vehicle until further notice.

Once the passenger of the vehicle was at the campsite, the second Ranger returned to the scene in order to assist with watching the vehicle. As we were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, dispatch advised us of a possible domestic situation back at the campground. As Rangers responded to this call, I stayed with the vehicle to wait on the tow truck and make sure the vehicle was secure.

Soon, the tow truck arrived and picked up the DUI vehicle. At this time, the other Rangers cleared the campground and Ranger Krebs returned from processing the DUI driver. After some finishing some paperwork, Ranger Krebs and I cleared the scene and headed home for the night, while the other Rangers completed the domestic incident.

Thank you for reading this weeks blog!

Jay Copper

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