San Jose considers arming park rangers

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As the nation debates whether teachers in the classroom should be armed, San Jose is considering whether park rangers should carry guns.

Some rangers have been tasked with patrolling waterways like the Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek that border city parkland.

Details are scarce but there have been a handful of incidents lately where rangers have had to interact with the homeless and what some describe as a “criminal element,” in these areas to the point where they do not feel safe.

The vast majority of the more than 200 parks in the city of San Jose are quiet neighborhood parks but some are now also surrounded by development. 

They’re large, urban parks that are touched by crime says veteran supervising ranger Pam Helmke.

She couldn’t say how many of her fellow rangers want to carry a gun but says the idea will be given serious consideration.

“Firearms are not the answer in and of themselves, having guns can resolve some issues but it can bring new issues to the table,” Helmke said. “It’s not something the city should take lightly, we are going to need input from the community.” 

If push comes to shove, they can fall back on chemical spray, handcuffs and a nightstick. They also have a radio to call for help. 

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