Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Following the Case: From Start to End

K9 Konyak
Back at work again after a few fun days off as you all read about, I started out my half day shift with a little bit of program and training paperwork before heading out for patrol. I would be riding with Ranger Little, who was quite excited about a new tool he had just received that he could use in the field on traffic stops. The new tool that he received is called a tint reader, which allows him to test what percentage of tint the owner of the vehicle has on his/her windows. If it is below the limit it is allowed, but if it is a higher percentage than what is allowed, they can be cited or given a verbal warning to get it removed and get the right tint installed. It was a rather slow day as we did a few car stops with nothing major occurring, so we headed back to the office to end our shift and go home.

Ranger Little and K9 Konyak with the seized
drugs from our vehicle stop
When there is a slow day, you can always count on the next day being busy, and well that is what we got. Again I would be riding with Ranger Little, as we started our day out running radar on Blacksnake Road, one of the park roads that is known to be dangerous for people speeding. Right away, we caught someone speeding and pulled them over, issuing them a verbal warning for speeding and for a broken tail light. Upon clearing that stop, I observed a car coming up the hill that didn’t have a working front light and notified Ranger Little. We proceeded to ride behind the vehicle until there was a clear area for the traffic stop that didn’t leave us or people in the car in harm’s way of passing motorists. Upon pulling him over and making contact, the occupants, one male and one female, were asked to step out of the car so that we could run Konyak to sniff for drugs. Konyak proceeded to sniff the car and sit down, meaning he had a hit of drugs in the car. Ranger Little returned Konyak to the car, then started a search of the vehicle from front to back, as I stood with the subjects in front of the patrol car to make sure they didn’t interfere or try to run. Ranger Little upon searching the rear of the car found a large amount of Marijuana, money, a scale, grinder, and multiple baggies suggesting that one of the occupants of the car sold drugs. We placed one of the subjects under arrest as they admitted to the drugs, and finalized the search of the car, as well as interviews, then were on our way to the county jail.

Since it was such a large drug bust, we decided to get the local Drug Task Force (DTF) involved so that they could possibly gather intelligence to help them take down more drug dealers. We had a DTF investigative agent meet us at the jail so that we could share our intel/arrest information with him. He also wanted to do an interview with subject, which they were kind enough to allow me to sit in on. After the interview was conducted and the subject released until his court date, Ranger Little and I headed back to the office as it was time to enter evidence into IMARS and our evidence room. During the evidence entering process, I helped Ranger Little by weighing the amount of Marijuana we seized, counting the number of baggies the subject possessed, and counting the amount of cash that was seized as well. After counting and weighing everything, entering it into IMARS, and printing barcode labels, we put the evidence in different bags depending on whether or not it was going to be sent to the crime lab to get tested. The final thing that needed to be done was up to Ranger Little, as he started the process of writing the reports, and calling the right people to get the ball rolling on such an extensive case. It was an amazing experience to be able to see  and help in this traffic stop/case 99% of the way (besides court), and know just how much work goes into a case after you make the arrest and do the more fun work!

Also that night upon finishing evidence as Ranger Little started to write the report, we got called out to a motor vehicle accident (MVA) by Ranger Summerlin. Upon arriving we found a car that crashed into a small concrete bridge with no driver or passengers in the area. We photographed the scene, called for a tow truck, and directed traffic until the car was removed. I was given the task of filling out a tow sheet, a task that I had not done before. I found it to be a pretty easy but crucial task for a MVA, as it documents the cars condition and such, ownership, and what towing company took it so that we can put all that information into our report.

The next day Ranger Little and I were on patrol again, running radar and driving around to make sure all was sound. One of our two big incidents for the day was a traffic stop we conducted that wound up with us transporting a subject that was wanted on a warrant to another county close by. The transport and transfer of custody went without incident, and we headed back to the park. Our second incident was helping out Ranger Flint with a traffic stop where drugs were suspected in the car. Upon arriving on scene, Ranger Little and Flint took both occupants out of the car, than had Ranger Little run Konyak on the car. Konyak alerted to a spot in the car, confirming the presence of drugs. The vehicle was then searched with a small amount of marijuana found, that was taken to be processed into evidence. After the stop was over, it was time for us to go home and rest up for our shift the next day.

Our shift the next day was a busy one, as we made a good amount of traffic stops, resulting in a few written citations. On two of the traffic stops, we encountered the drivers having suspended licenses and search waivers, but finding nothing in the cars upon the conclusion of the searches. They both were issued citations for driving on a DL then were on their way home. On another traffic stop that night, a driver we pulled over had an expired DL. That traffic stop also resulted in another citation, as this is a big problem in Hot Springs and we are making it known that the NPS does not take this lightly. Our last traffic stop of the night resulted in a DUI arrest. We were staged at the “honey hole” when we observed a two car truck approach a stop sign, stop, proceed a bit, turn their headlights on then off, then peeled out on the road. Upon conducting the traffic stop at the campground and running the individual through a series of SFSTs (Standard Field Sobriety Tests), Ranger Little came to the conclusion the driver was driving under the influence as he failed a few portions of the tests conducted. He blew over the legal limit on scene, but during the booking process he was unable to blow a correct test on their machines, which results in a refusal. The refusal resulted in another citation that was issued, as he would be left in the jail to sober up then be released a few hours later. This would be our last stop of the day, which proved to be very productive for all the rangers on patrol that night.

My last shift for the week was fairly relaxed, as not much occurred throughout the evening. The first duty I had for the day was to go to Ranger Littles house to check on K9 Konyak since Ranger Little and his family were away for the day. Upon finally arriving at the office, I meet up with my supervisor and went out to do some bike patrol and practice some new skills on the bike. Some of the skills we worked on that day were a running stop, tackle off the bike, and learning how to be able to balance the bike and get down low to go under small spaces. We also rode up Hot Springs Mountain patrolling the area, and descended the mountain on some trails that had us working on our off terrain maneuvering skills. To end the shift, I rode along with Ranger Flint for the night. While patrolling Bathhouse row, a Hot Springs Police Department officer alerted Ranger Flint and I to a possibly intoxicated woman he observed having a hard time walking. Ranger Flint and I, along with the assistance of Hot Springs PD stopped the woman and questioned her. Along with questioning her, Ranger Flint administered SFSTs, but the woman was unable to complete them because of her level on intoxication. Ranger Flint along with the help of Hot Springs PD placed her under arrest and put her in our patrol car as she was going to jail for the night until she sobered up. This ended a very busy week for myself and the Rangers, as there is no other way we like it here at Hot Springs National Park then being busy patrolling the park and keeping visitors and locals safe.

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