After shooting, alderman says park rangers stretched too thin - KMOV.com

After shooting, alderman says park rangers stretched too thin

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SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – After a shooting at a south St. Louis City park involving a park ranger, many say the city should add more rangers to patrol.

On April 24, a park ranger was involved in a shootout with a gunman who had shot a man after an argument at a barbeque in Carondelet Park.

Many people are not aware that park rangers are armed. Some people believe that the city should add more rangers because they are spread too thin.

When the city regained control of its police department from the state in 2014, park rangers fell under control of the police department.

Antonio French, Alderman of Ward 21, says that he would like to see more park rangers added who would be dedicated to the city’s larger parks.

At one of the city’s parks, O’Fallon Park, police officers cruise through the area, but the park ranger assigned to the specific park must also monitor other parks.

French says he has long wanted park rangers who could be assigned to just the park so they could get to know the residents and vice versa.

French said he would like to see a more sustained presence in the city’s larger parks such as O’Fallon, Fairground, Carondelet.

When there is an incident such as the shooting at Carondelet Park, the rangers’ radio system is the same as the city police department so they can call for quick back-up.

French says the police department is spread thin enough and officers are already in short supply.

“City taxpayers have invested in tens of millions of dollars. Only makes sense to invest in a $40,000 or $50,000 a year park ranger to make sure people use it, feel safe. It's orderly, maintained. That's common sense,” said French.

French believes having enough park rangers on the payroll that could be dedicated to certain parks could lead to relationships and incidents would not escalate into violence.

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