The Milwaukee County Executive’s 2008 Recommended Budget proposed the creation of a Park Patrol. On Monday, November 5, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors supported the creation of a Park Patrol when they passed the 2008 Adopted Budget.
The mission of the Park Patrol is to provide informational, educational, and safety services to the general public, revitalizing Park Watch groups, and monitoring activities in the parks to ensure patron safety and voluntary compliance with park rules and regulations. The Park Patrol will also be able to assist field staff by monitoring rentals, providing security during special events, ensuring fee compliance (e.g., boat launch fees and dog park permits), and working to prevent vandalism and theft. Community involvement is a key component in the fight to prevent vandalism and crime in our parks, therefore, their work in revitalizing neighborhood Park Watch groups will be essential.
Parks departments nationwide have been turning to Park Ranger programs to enhance safety and security in their parks and to serve as ambassadors. Locally, Waukesha and Dane Counties have had successful ranger programs for years. Milwaukee County Parks’ proposed Park Patrol will be very similar in structure and function to the program in Waukesha.
Patrol members will be provided with bicycles to allow for greater coverage in larger parks, parkways, and trails. They will receive extensive training through the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Training Academy that includes personal safety awareness, conflict resolution, and county parks ordinance review. Bicycle safety classes will also be offered. Park Patrol members will be provided with 800 mhz trunked radios with direct access to Sheriff’s Dispatch and each other. It is not the intent of the program to involve Park employees in patron disputes or crimes in progress but to serve as educators and frontline eyes and ears to credentialed law enforcement officers. Their training will also prepare them to track patron contacts and violations. This tracking mechanism will be a vital tool to provide local law enforcement agencies information and trends on the types of violations observed in the Parks.
One of the key factors in the success of Park Patrol will be the continued cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office Targeted Enforcement Unit (TEU). TEU was established in 2005 with an emphasis on Parks and Transit issues. During the busy summer months, the TEU is a valued partner of the Parks Department and their dedication to the safety of the public and our employees is evident. The TEU is comprised of 26 deputies and sergeants that are divided into geographical patrol areas. The Sheriff’s Office has also established their own parks hotline at 453-PARK. This hotline was established so that residents can report Parks-related crime issues and tips directly to the TEU.
For more information or if you are interested in starting a Park Watch in your neighborhood, contact Laura Schloesser, Safety, Security and Training Manager, at 257-PARK.