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O’Fallon proposes parks ranger program in anticipation of increased patrol needs

With a brand new park in the works, the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department has proposed establishing a park rangers program for the city.

At the City Council’s Oct. 12 work session, Parks Manager Jeremy Wolfmeyer gave an overview of a potential parks ranger program that would report to the city’s parks department and patrol the city’s eight parks spanning more than 400 acres.

The proposed program comes amid the expected completion of O’Day Park in 2018. The new park, located off Hwy. DD, will include features such as overnight camping, a rental facility and an outdoor amphitheater.

“All those amenities lend to a developed park rangers program [so] that we can be out in the park and monitor those areas,” Wolfmeyer said.

Wolfmeyer said the proposed park rangers also would seek to improve customer service, handle incidents at the city’s park and lead educational programs. The city’s police department currently handles O’Fallon’s animal control/park ranger operations.

Under the proposed plan, the city would hire three full-time park rangers as well as five to eight part-time rangers. If the city council approves the program, a park ranger supervisor would be hired in the fourth quarter of 2018 with the remaining officers hired in early 2019. Wolfmeyer said the program hopes to be fully operational in March 2019.

Rangers hired would be required to be licensed as a security officer by a state-approved police academy and would patrol unarmed. Assignments would include patrolling city parks, enforcing park rules, handing incidents on park grounds, interacting with park patrons and leading educational programs.

From April to October, three park rangers would be on duty throughout the day and two rangers would be on duty during the parks’ non-peak season. Wolfmeyer said the annual estimated cost of the program would be $277,602 and funding would come from the parks department budget.

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