Seven new North Carolina state park rangers received commissions as law enforcement officers Thursday. The rangers were sworn in by Superior Court Judge Douglas B. Sasser at a special ceremony at Umstead State Park and addressed by John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
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.
Beyond law enforcement skills, all are trained in medical first response, search-and-rescue, wildfire suppression, natural resource management, interpretive skills and environmental education.
Noting the wide range of training before they can wear the traditional, campaign-style ranger hat, Skvarla told the group, “That’s quite a portfolio and you’ve earned it. I know you will discharge your duties well…It’s a hard charge. Every day, you’re called upon to do something different for everyone.”
Sasser, who has often visited the parks and is a scoutmaster, said that park rangers always impressed him with their knowledge, willingness to help and commitment. “With every ranger I met, it was obvious they loved what they are doing,” he said.
The state parks system has about 200 rangers and park superintendents who are law enforcement officers. Candidates 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 natural resource and/or park management.
The rangers who received commissions are: Joshua Aaron Banks at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area; Andrew James Boos at Falls Lake State Recreation Area; Mary Catherine Griffin at Hanging Rock State Park; Autumn Marie Kahl at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park; Aaron Allan Ledford at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area; Joshua Lee McIntyre at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area; James Thomas Rusher Jr. at Falls Lake State Recreation Area.