City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force
Minutes of the Safety Sub-Committee Meeting
October 28, 2004

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: October 28, 2004

Place: Office of the Mayor, Conference Room

Time:3 - 4:30 PM

B. Attendees

    1. Coen Purvis, Chair
    2. Robert Josehp
    3. Barbara Goodman
    4. Laurie McEwen
    5. Denise Ostertag
    6. Phil Bruce
    7. Mark Kurland
    8. Elizabeth Kohler
    9. Mark Middlebrook
    10. Tom Fallin

II. The Meeting

Chairman Coen Purvis reviewed the minutes from the Safety subcommittee meeting on October 12, 2004. He asked that the group discuss further the issue and the role of the Park Ranger in relation to law enforcement. He also asked that the group discuss the research conducted by Phil Bruce's team on security in cities across the nation. He passed out the meeting agenda and related handouts.

Chairman Purvis also reviewed the discussion on park security conducted by Bob Baughman (Parks, Recreation, and Entertainment) and Lt. Bobby Deal (Jacksonville Sheriff's Office) at the October 14, 2004 Task Force meeting. Mr. Baughman and Lt. Deal discussed the Safe Park initiative, the Police Athletic League program, and the plan to turn-around Mallison Park. Ostertag mentioned that DPRE contributed two park workers to Mallison Park, in addition to the two Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) officers dedicated to the park.

Phil Bruce discussed the JSO Park Officer initiative, and Officer's duties and responsibilities. He then gave an overview of the research conducted by his Division on parks security provided by parks departments and police departments in Minneapolis, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Denver, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, and San Francisco.

The COJ Parks Department has developed a parks security plan that includes a combination of park rangers, Community Service Officers (CSOs), and JSO Officers. Plan details include two park rangers per Planning District, who would communicate with the JSO officer(s), and would be trained in resource management, education, and public relations. The park rangers would also be trained in CEPTED and would be asked to evaluate parks in relation to safety by design. Bruce also developed a plan for working with JSO in relation to the CSO program. The plan includes seven parks on which to focus efforts; parks which provide a broad cross section of park issues.

Commissioner Goodman summarized that Minneapolis has 64 park officers for 6,400 acres of parkland and San Antonio has 130 park officers for 15,556 acres of parkland. Mark Middlebrook indicated that the Trust for Public Land study included all public lands, not just municipal parks, and it is not clear whether the count of security officers in the study includes those employed by state or federal parks services in addition to city officers.

Commissioner Joseph remarked that not all acres can be counted equally when determining security needs. He listed examples of some security problems that can cause larger problems than others, such as illegal dumping of hazardous wastes.

Commissioner Goodman suggested that the Task Force recommend having some law enforcement capable employees within the Parks Department. These employees would need the law enforcement training that a JSO officer would have and would also need natural / cultural resources training. Commissioner Joseph recommended that the officers also have training specific to parks security and safety. Commissioner Goodman elaborated that the park officers would take a proactive approach to security through educating park users. Most National Park Service rangers follow this model (although some cities have NPS park police who only do law enforcement and no education due to the densely populated nature of those cities).

Florida Parks Service (FPS) has two security officers now in Jacksonville and National Parks Service (NPS) has one. The training for these officers is intense and the officers go through months of training before they are put in the field to work. Commissioner Joseph commented that the role of the officers often is to stabilize a problem until JSO can arrive, so it still needs to be a partnership.

Middlebrook commented that he thinks Phil Bruce's recommendations are sound and he also said that the commitment expressed from Sheriff Rutherford to parks security is historic and deserves commendation. Middlebrook also reviewed security issues as evaluated by preservation property manager Tony Williams, including poaching, trespassing, homeless, hunting, and trapping.

Commissioner Joseph commented that if the park rangers notice a preserve that is having some of those problems then they could communicate with JSO and coordinate a timely JSO to visit the site. Middlebrook mentioned that there is also a way to contract out security to Fish and Wildlife officers.

Commissioner Goodman summarized that whether the City arranges for this type of security in house or out-sourced, all agree that it is important to recommend.

Mark Kurland of Budget recommended that if the City is opposed to hiring additional security officers or park rangers but is okay with capital costs, perhaps the installation of security cameras would be a good solution. Kurland said he would rather see people than technology but he said one-time funds are generally easier to find.

NPS is investigating using security equipment at Kingsley Plantation, including video cameras that can be monitored by computers. Commissioner Goodman said there are situations in which that type of equipment is the right answer.

Commissioner Joseph said the law enforcement officers must also be supervised by a certified law enforcement officer and it goes to the top of the organizational structure.

Commissioner Goodman recommended: long-term, a cadre of sworn park rangers; and short-term, building upon several layers to get to that goal, including implementing the parks department recommendations.

Chairman Purvis said he thinks that we need a ball park cost on the 12 park rangers and Bruce said the department is working on developing those costs.

Bruce said there were only three park systems of those that his team studied that had full time park police working for the parks.

Commissioner Joseph said the safety committee should consider communications issues, such as whether the park officers are listening to the routine non-law enforcement radio traffic.

Commissioner Goodman said she supported the idea of the park law enforcement officers being within the Sheriff's Office as long as they had their own separate division.

Community Service Officers:

Officer Laurie McEwen said there are 30 to 40 CSOs already trained and waiting for their equipment. Another class is coming in shortly and training takes about three months.

Chairman Purvis said the CSOs were a win-win for both Parks and JSO.

In response to Chairman Purvis's request for details on law enforcement operations in and near the Timucuan Preserve, Commissioner Goodman prepared the following list of agencies that have some law enforcement authority and may be present in the area:

  1. Jacksonville Sheriff Office – vehicle, air and marine resources, general urban enforcement activities, marine safety, manatee speed zones
  2. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission – marine safety, manatee speed zone, fishing and hunting regulations
  3. Department of Environmental Protection – Division of Law Enforcement – formerly officers in the state park, these officer can enforce any state regulation (felony or misdemeanor) but mostly concerned with state park regulations
  4. NPS – can enforce marine safety and CFR regulations on any land owned by NPS
  5. Florida Highway patrol – state highways only
  6. U.S. Coast Guard – marine safety, oil spill regulations, harbor control
  7. U. S. Marshal Service * - serving of federal warrants
  8. FBI * - authority for any homicide on NPS property
  9. Military authority (Navy and Marines) – security for military installations at Blount Island, Naval Station Mayport, when Navy ships are at Atlantic marine for repairs, and transit through the river
  10. ATF * - bombs
  11. Customs Service * - mainly on Blount Island dealing with cargo
  12. INS – mainly on Blount Island dealing with foreign nationals
  13. Secret Service *
  14. FBI *
  15. Homeland Security * – this may include many of the above agencies

* These agencies have no regular visible presence except at Blount Island or when ships are moving.

Next meeting: November 10th, 2004 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

Chairman Purvis adjourned the meeting.