Ten new state park rangers received commissions as law enforcement officers Monday. The rangers were sworn in by Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour, Jr. at a special ceremony at William B. Umstead State Park.
Receiving a commission as a Special Peace Officer at the end of 17-week basic law enforcement training is generally regarded as the last formal step before a ranger takes on full duties in a unit of the state parks system. During the training period prior to commissioning, a ranger is assimilated into the park and begins assuming duties in resource management and visitor service.
John Skvarla, secretary, and Brad Ives, assistant secretary, of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, attended the ceremony and spoke briefly to the rangers and family members who attended. Skvarla said rangers are on the front lines, not only in law enforcement, but in the area of customer service, and he noted that the state parks system has a $400 million annual impact on the state’s economy. “We need to do everything we can to help you enhance that economic impact,” he said.
Baddour gave the new rangers some advice for dealing with the court system, and said that rangers and the parks they serve deserve support. “Anything we can do to make the parks more user friendly, more accessible, more inviting and more utilized as a resource, we should do,” he said.
Several of the rangers earned accolades during their basic law enforcement training at various schools in the state. Michael Joseph Walker was named the most outstanding student in his class. Jason Howard and Ben Fleming captured top academic honors, and Jason Murvine won physical fitness honors in his class.
“It requires a lot of dedication and training for our candidates to earn the right to wear the campaign-style hat of a state park ranger,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “These men and women are true multi-specialists who are frequently asked to assume many roles during a day at work from finding a lost hiker to giving an interpretive program to dealing with violations of state law”
State park rangers are required to have at least a two-year degree, and many come to the job with four-year university degrees in curricula related to resource and/or park management. Beyond law enforcement training, all are trained in medical first response, search-and-rescue, wildfire suppression, natural resource management, interpretive skills and environmental education.
The rangers who received commissions are: Benjamin Ryan Fleming at Fort Macon State Park; Jason Woodward Howard at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area; David Matthew Langdon at Falls Lake State Recreation Area; Crystal Nicole Lloyd at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park; Elliot Kevin McDowell at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area; Jason Bryant Murvine at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area; Katherine Leigh Goodman Scheip at Falls Lake State Recreation Area; Michael Joseph Walker at Lake Norman State Park; Michael Talbot Walker at Goose Creek State Park; and, Ian Jacob Willms at Kerr Lake State Recreation Area.