LA city council committee pushes motion to arm park rangers – Daily News
By MARGARET SHUTTLEWORTH | City News Service
On Tuesday, November 9, a three-person committee of Los Angeles City Council brought forward a controversial motion by city councilor and committee member Joe Buscaino to allow park rangers on duty to carry firearms.
The Arts, Parks, Health, Education and Neighborhoods committee moved the motion forward with a 2-1 vote, Buscaino and committee chair, Councilor John Lee, voting in favor of the progress of the motion, while Councilor Mike Bonin disagreed.
The motion was introduced in February 2020 and, if approved by the entire city council, would order the city attorney to prepare an amendment to the city’s municipal code to allow park rangers to carry firearms.
Supporters of the motion note that the city’s 28 forest rangers are sworn peace officers and receive basic police training after they are hired. Under Los Angeles City Code 63.41, park rangers are permitted to make arrests but do not carry firearms. In an emergency, they usually call for reinforcements from the Los Angeles Police Department.
The motion to arm park rangers was supported by neighborhood councils representing Arleta, Northwest San Pedro, Hollywood United, Tarzana and Foothills Trails District.
Supporters also include LAPD leader Michel Moore, the Park Law Enforcement Association, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and various homeowners associations.
Forest Park Chief Joe Losorelli told the committee meeting that the increase in violent crime during the pandemic is also impacting safety in parks, and that without guns park rangers have to wait until the LAPD responds to violent situations.
He noted an incident at Elysian Park in which park rangers attempted to make contact with two people drinking beers in the park, but “before they even had enough information to collect the names and numbers of phone of these people, they get shot “.
He added that rangers had to wait 10 minutes for a police response during this incident.
Bonin, who opposed the motion, said he found problems with the argument that park rangers should be armed as they currently have to wait for the police to respond.
“Everyone too. If having to call the cops is a justification for someone to be armed, then … are we going to start next month talking about arming the LADOT agents, are we going to start talking about arming the parking lot guards, let’s go we start talking about arming librarians? There are definitely incidents in our libraries and our librarians have to call agents, ”Bonin said.
He also added that just last year, city officials pledged to reinvent public security and attempt to reduce the number of armed officers in public life.
“It makes it look like it’s completely the opposite of that dynamic, that impetus, and what I certainly felt was a commitment from the vast majority of people in LA city government,” he said. Bonin added. “I don’t think most people thought that when we were talking about removing armed police officers from some aspect of daily life in Los Angeles that meant we would start arming other people to deal with these issues. “
Appellants voicing opposition to the motion flooded the committee meeting, with people calling the idea “absurd”, “absurd” and “ridiculous.” Several callers expressed support for a reimagining of public safety and investing away from armed officers and into communities, citing the already high number of police shootings.
“As a neighborhood council that represents Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States and so reflects the identity of our neighborhood, we strongly oppose this motion,” said the neighborhood council of Los Feliz in a comment submitted to the city. Advice. The motion was also opposed by neighborhood councils representing Silver Lake, Echo Park, Mid-City and Highland Park.
The Los Feliz neighborhood council said it believed that arming the park rangers “will result in as many Angelenos as possible, especially those from marginalized groups, under threat of being shot by forces of the United Nations. ‘order,’ noting that police in the United States killed 1,004 people and black Americans were 2.5 times more likely to be killed than white Americans.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah called the committee meeting to voice BLM’s opposition to arming park rangers.
“I am the mother of three children. I go to the park so that we can get away from the violence of society, ”Abdullah said. “I am a black mother of three black children who see guns against officers as a threat to their lives, so we ask you to vote no on this motion. Park rangers should not be armed.
A man named Craig who introduced himself as a former ranger for a government agency also called to oppose the decision to arm ranger.
“The rangers are not trained for this mission. They are trained for a very different mission… The Rangers are there for one job. The police are there for a different job. They are not the same, they should not be confused, ”he said.
The motion will then go to city council, and not to the public safety committee, according to the office of that committee’s chair, city councilor Monica Rodriguez.