Armed park rangers made their debut in Huntington this past weekend.
Starting with the Friday 4 p.m. to midnight shift, five of six rangers recently hired by the town began patrolling town facilities, buildings and parks to enforce state and local laws.
“Starting on a holiday weekend is good because that’s probably the most active time,” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said on Friday. “And with the bad weather coming, it’s an added asset whenever you have law enforcement expertise, which helps with dealing with the public with some of their concerns and frustrations.”
The six 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.
Three are Suffolk County park rangers, one is a Suffolk County probation officer and two are Town of Smithtown fire marshals. Two of the park rangers are Town of Huntington residents, Petrone said.
In addition to peace officer training, the rangers have other expertise, including knowledge of the use of firearms, use of force, laws of arrest, first aid, CPR, and use of a defibrillator and Narcan — an opiate overdose treatment, Petrone said.
“They have a wide base of experience collectively,” Petrone said. “Any situation they may encounter they will be able to handle and should be able to work very well with the Suffolk police department.”
The plan for the weekend was for the rangers to ride with existing town public safety officers to get familiar with the routes and facilities they will be patrolling.
Town officials in May announced plans for the rangers as one of several safety measures they and Suffolk police were undertaking for the summer, especially for parks in Huntington Station.
Petrone said the armed rangers will “deter, specifically, any crimes or attempts in any of our facilities, especially parks.”
While the new rangers are only patrolling during the weekends, plans to eventually hire more rangers to work during the week are still being considered, Petrone said.