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Efforts underway to hire park rangers for Kansas City, Missouri

Posted: 5:45 PM, Aug 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-16 22:45:24Z

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  Preparations are underway for the annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Swope Park.

This year, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department will be on hand to keep folks safe.

Next year, there'll be additional help in the form of park rangers.

Jeff Hurley, a retired KCPD sergeant and former Jackson County park ranger, is the new Park Rangers supervisor for the city.

"A safe park is what we want to provide," Hurley said.

Kansas City ended its Park Rangers program two decades ago because of budget cuts, but changes are coming again.

Last year, Kansas City Parks and Recreation took a comprehensive look at its safety plan after a series of violent crimes, including murders around trails in south Kansas City, and decided to restart the the park rangers program.

"From time to time, (I) did have the opportunity to work with Kansas City Park Rangers and, in those days, I was saddened that they canceled that program and I'm very excited they got it going again," Hurley said.

Hurley is in the process of hiring at least five park rangers. He's looking at candidates with law enforcement and military backgrounds.

"I'm going to develop a schedule that will enable us to have as much coverage of the parks on a 24-hour basis as we can," Hurley said.

He is also drafting an ordinance that will outline the park rangers' authority to patrol KCMO parks and issue summonses.

"Life in the neighborhoods is greatly affect by what's going on in the parks," Hurley said.

Last year, Kansas City Parks and Recreation took a comprehensive look at its safety plan after a series of violent crimes, including murders around trails in south Kansas City, and decided to restart the the park rangers program.

 

Besides safety, Hurley would like his park rangers to be part of community discussions.

 

"Every community group has at least one park in their area of responsibility and you know we like to think that they take ownership of the park just like we do," Hurley said.

 

Hurley hopes to have his staff of park rangers out patrolling by the beginning of next summer.