Achievement Award Program

Park Ranger Initiative

2009 NACo Achievement Award Winner
Park Ranger Initiative
Milwaukee County, Wis.

About the Program

CATEGORY: Criminal Justice and Public Safety
YEAR: 2009
In 2004, the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture hosted a series of countywide public forums to discuss the state of the parks. Constituents consistently voiced their concerns about public health and safety and rule compliance in the parks. Initially, those issues were made a priority through a partnership with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and their creation of a Targeted Enforcement Unit to address public safety in the parks and transit system. Then, in 2008 the Parks Department created a Park Ranger program with a mission to provide informational, educational, and safety services to the general public; cooperate with local law enforcement; and monitor activities in the parks to ensure patron safety and voluntary compliance with park rules and regulations. The goal is to be customer service oriented while being very approachable to Park users; resolving issues using verbal communication skills, and enforcement of park rules by education. The Rangers have proven to be a valuable link between the department and local law enforcement and to the community. The Park Watch program, dormant since the late 1990’s, was revitalized with 13 new groups formed in 2008.

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