REC AND PARK INCREASES NUMBER OF PARK RANGERS
The number of park rangers patrolling San Francisco parks will increase from 24 to 43 full time rangers; the number of part time rangers will increase from 7 to 9. There will still be five supervisors and five dispatchers and someone will be in the dispatch center 24/ hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The dispatch telephone number is 415-242-6390. The future goal is to increase staffing to 80 full time rangers.
The main goal of the rangers is to enforce the San Francisco Park Code. Calls for service include vandalism, burglaries, vehicle theft, illegal dumping, traffic accidents, physical altercations, graffiti, threats, gang activity, sexual assaults, crisis response, crowd control, medical calls, alarms, and permit violations.
Park Ranger Chief Mike Celeste, who started in December 2015, is a retired Colma Police Department sergeant and ran the police academy for San Mateo after that. Second in command is Lieutenant Marcus Santiago, who has been involved with parks for 17 years.
Park Rangers issued 4401 citations, conducted 231 field interviews, and filed 393 incident reports in 2016. Citations were issued for smoking, drinking, being in the park after hours, sleeping in the park after hours, and other violations of the Park Code. Celeste said, “When I started here my philosophy…was education first…If there’s a dog off the leash, (we) talk to the person. 95 percent of them say yeah, no problem. Some don’t. If they’re in an area where you can’t smoke in the park so we tell them. We don’t just walk out and say you’re smoking and give a citation. That is not how it works. It’s education first and then some people don’t want to comply. Sometimes a citation makes them comply.” Many tourists and people from other neighborhoods aren’t aware of all of the rules for parks.
Field interviews are given only when they feel there might be a problem that will arise later on. Incident reports are usually made for vandalism and car accidents. Park Rangers can issue parking citations but they cannot do vehicle stops or enforce the vehicle code for stope signs or speed.