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The Signpost Newsletter

Second Quarter 2018

President's Message (contined from Page 7)

 

Stephen T. Mather said this about park rangers in the 1920s "They are a fine, earnest, intelligent, and public-spirited body of men (and women), and the rangers. Though small in number, their influence is large. Many and long are the duties heaped upon their shoulders. If a trail is to be blazed, it is 'send a ranger.' If an animal is floundering in the snow, a ranger is sent to pull him out; if a bear is in the hotel, if a fire threatens a forest, if someone is to be saved, it is 'send a ranger.' If a Dude wants to know the why of Nature's ways, if a "Sagebrusher" is puzzled about a road, his first thought is, 'ask a ranger.' Everything the ranger knows, he will tell you, except about himself."

 

It should be noted the interpretive park ranger had its origin in Yosemite too, with the first real park interpretive programs which were simultaneously developed in Yosemite and Yellowstone in 1920.  Initially, these rangers were called Ranger Naturalists. During the 1920s the duties and training of the Ranger Naturalists were formalized, this included founding the Yosemite School of Field Natural History in 1925.

 

My view is that professional park rangers are "protectors, explainers, hosts, caretakers, people who are expected to be knowledgeable, helpful, courteous and professional: people who find you when you're lost, help you when you're hurt, rescue you when you're stuck, and enforce the law when you or others can't abide by it."  Since 1866 this is what a park ranger in California has been, it is what unites our profession. We are all these things and more, it is our common ground and heritage, and it all began here in Yosemite.

Legal Update Hints

(continued from Page 7)

 

The contact in this case began as an offer of assistance by the officers when they saw that defendant was having some car problems. Even though defendant indicated that he did not need any assistance, there was no legal reason why the officers were required to walk away. It is well settled that “law enforcement officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment by merely approaching an individual on the street or in another public place, by asking him if he is willing to answer some questions, by putting questions to him if the person is willing to listen, or by offering in evidence in a criminal prosecution his voluntary answers to such questions.”

 

Such a contact remains a “consensual encounter” at least up until that point that a reasonable person no longer feels that he is free to walk away. That typically requires some sort of “show of authority,” to the extent that a reasonable person no longer feels free to leave.  The Court also rejected defendant’s argument that there was insufficient evidence of a V.C. § 12500 violation in that they never saw him driving. It was clear, under the circumstances, that he had been driving the vehicle when he was observed getting out of the driver’s side of the car right after the car had been seen rolling backwards into the intersection. The Court further rejected defendant’s argument that patting him down for weapons under these circumstances was illegal. Assuming that defendant had only been detained when handcuffed, the law

requires that the officers had a reasonable suspicion to believe that he might be armed in order to

conduct a patdown of his outer clothing for weapons.

Noting that “a police officer has a strong need to practice caution and self-protection when on patrol,” the Court found that under the circumstances of this case, the officers had the necessary reasonable suspicion when they observed him nervously touching the heavy bulge in his sweatshirt pocket a number of times, and thus the patdown search was a lawful search under the Fourth Amendment.

Photo courtesy CSPRA's History Collection