Natural Resources Police officers, park rangers

April 03, 2004|by DAVID DISHNEAU

Most state park rangers will become Natural Resources Police officers in a merger aimed at saving $5 million to $6 million, the Ehrlich administration said Friday.

Joining the two law-enforcement arms of the Department of Natural Resources was one recommendation of a task force on state government efficiency established by Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

"This consolidation of law-enforcement units creates additional geographic and seasonal flexibility in order to meet critical conservation-law and park-safety needs," Ehrlich said.

The State Law Enforcement Officers' Labor Alliance agreed March 25 to the consolidation, which will take effect Jan. 1, the governor's office said. State officials said no employees will be laid off as a result of the merger.


Under the plan, 108 of the 149 rangers in the State Forest and Park Service will join the 177-member Natural Resources Police Force, said Mark Belton, a DNR assistant secretary.

The rangers and NRP officers received the same basic law-enforcement training and are authorized to carry guns, he said.

The remaining 41 rangers, all above the rank of first sergeant, are in management-level jobs that do not require law-enforcement training, Belton said.

They will retain their law-enforcement authority until retirement, when they will be succeeded by civilians, he said.

The change will reduce costs because the new managers won't require law-enforcement training and will receive a lower entry wage than trained officers, Belton said. In addition, civilian retirement benefits are less generous than those negotiated by the law-enforcement officers, he said.

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