Huntington NY June 5 2017 Huntington officials are hiring more armed rangers to patrol town facilities and parks.
The program to use armed rangers has been such a success that it’s being expanded, officials said.
Town officials last year hired six part-time rangers who started work on Labor Day weekend and worked only on weekends. Two have since left the program. Town officials say they want to increase the number to 10 in order to have more shifts to cover greater periods of time.
“The program has been a success,” Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said. “The coordination with the police department has increased — they assist the police as peace officers. Their presence is having the effectiveness we thought it would.”
When the program was introduced, Petrone said he planned eventually to hire more rangers to patrol during the week. The money for the new hires was put into the 2017 operating budget, Petrone said.
The year-round program divides the town into two sections — east and west. The rangers’ primary duties are to patrol town facilities, buildings and parks to enforce state and local laws and spot suspicious activity before it becomes a problem.
Town officials said the expanded program would fill the open weekend shifts and then expand to coverage during the week.
Joe Rose, Huntington director of public safety, said the program is having an immediate impact, as seen in the reduction of vandalism in parks. Town officials said they are measuring the success of the program by feedback from the community.
“When our security department comes across a situation, instead of calling the [Suffolk County Police] Second Precinct to respond to a matter on town property, they call the park rangers, if they’re not already there, and they can achieve compliance more readily than in the past,” Rose said.
The rangers are certified by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service as peace officers which allows them to carry guns. The part-time positions pay $23.53 per hour with no benefits. The same salary and benefits arrangement will apply to the new hires.
Rose said they are looking for candidates who have peace or police officer status.
The rangers have other expertise, officials said, including knowledge of the use of force, laws of arrest, first aid, CPR, and using a defibrillator and the opiate overdose treatment Narcan.
The ranger program is one of several safety measures town and police officials put in place last year specifically for parks in Huntington Station.
“The intent was to have law enforcement-trained people who can carry weapons and whose presence brings with them the ability to deter potential crime,” Petrone said. “People know they are out there and when they get out and have a weapon on their side, it brings a different connotation of who they are and their ability and responsibility.”