Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Week 6 - Back on the Road

Riding along with Ranger Sheets as we check the tour roads and close gates

For my sixth week at COLO I was back with our LE rangers. After spending a few weeks rotating around through the park I was long overdue to climb into a patrol car and hit the Colonial Parkway. This week I tagged along with Ranger Lamb again but this time we were on the night shift. We started the week off on the 4th of July without a bang. That's probably due to our fireworks at Yorktown being cancelled because of rain. We use a portion of the battlefield as parking for the massive amount of visitors who show up to watch the fireworks over the York River but due to rain the previous days and a forecast for rain in the evening the parking operation would have been impossible and the event was cancelled. However Williamsburg's and Busch Garden's fireworks were still on, both of which are visible from the parts of the parkway. So Ranger Lamb and I, Ranger Brewer, and Ranger Sheets headed over to these areas of enforce parking violations and help direct the flow of traffic. And we still got to see fireworks.

Throughout the week Ranger Lamb stepped up my responsibilities and gave me more tasks to do to broaden my law enforcement capabilities. I began with radio communication. Ranger Lamb had me call in all traffic stops he was making by reading off the license plate, giving the direction we were traveling, and giving our location. I then kept in communication with dispatch giving the location at which we pulled over. I then read off the driver's license number and listened in to the details of the report dispatch sent back. Lastly, I then cleared us after the stop and notified dispatch sporadically of our status and location. Ranger Lamb also gave me the opportunity to practice writing written warnings and entering all of his warnings and citations into IMARS. I even tried my hand at writing Probably Cause statements for stops I had witnessed. Additionally, Ranger Krebs and Ranger Lamb gave me a crash course in handcuffing for an arrest.

If you've been paying any attention the news recently you've probably heard of the attack on law enforcement officers in Dallas. These events can be quite sobering for law enforcement professionals and I witnessed this first hand. However, they all picked up their heads and carried on with duties without missing a beat. This is especially impressive as there have been quite serious incidents at COLO recently. Within the past few weeks we have had a murder, a drowning, and multiple DUI's within the park. Despite this burst of activity for our law enforcement rangers they've been handling anything and everything as it happens and I'm grateful for the opportunity to watch them work during a time like this.

After patrolling and catching up on paperwork throughout the week I ended my second week with LE with Ranger Sheets on Saturday's night shift. We had some odd jobs to do during out shift and it was a nice change of pace. He even showed me a spot in the park where the sunset is fantastic that I probably never would have seen on my own. After the events of our day we arrived back in Yorktown around 11:30 PM only to find an abundance teenagers and young adults swarming. I quickly realized this must be the result of Pokemon Go and upon questioning a group this theory was confirmed. The issue with this is that the majority of buildings in Yorktown close with the rest of the park at sundown, so around 30 to 40 people were in violation of the park's sunset closure.
Never would I have thought a smartphone game would have an effect on law enforcement operations in our national parks. And thus an interesting week had an interesting end.

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