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The Signpost Newsletter

Second Quarter 2018

President's Message (contined from Page 2)


Guardian Clark was also named a special sheriff's deputy by Mariposa County, carried a firearm (rifle) and made the first known park arrest in 1870 and, which demonstrates law enforcement duties for park rangers is not a recent development. It was also expected that the guardian and sub-¬guardian be in the valley and Big Tree Grove during the busy season, "in order to bring about entire safety and security that wanton damages will not be inflicted." At times Clark had to accomplish his mission of protecting the park with "no appropriations, salary or money to develop the park" (budget issues in parks are almost as old as the parks themselves). As a result, Clark went without even partial salary for years, and was never fully paid. "As the first park ranger, Clark established the park ranger profession as one of protector, host, and administrator…he began the proud ranger tradition of protection and care of parks, combined with courteous and helpful service to the visiting public."


In 1890 Yosemite National Park was created and it was administered by the US Army. In September 1898 the Army Superintendent of Yosemite "received authorization to appoint Forest Rangers… for temporary service. These men were to assist the Troops on their patrols." These rangers were kept on for the winter to protect the Park (when the Army had returned to the Presidio in San Francisco).  "The Army reports to the Secretary of the Interior referred to these rangers as "Park Rangers." This was probably the first usage of the "Park Ranger Title." The forest rangers in California National Parks officially became known as park rangers in 1905. So even the job title of park ranger had its origins in Yosemite.


In 1916 the National Park Service was created, and they inherited the park rangers working at Yosemite and the other national parks. The book "Guardians of the Yosemite" described these early National Park Service Park Rangers as "The ranger is the law, the information bureau, wildlife protector, handyman, forest fire fighter and rescuer. He is responsible for the protection and administration of his area. He is trained for these duties and must be mentally and physically qualified to handle them competently."

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California Legal Update (contined from Page 4)


Eventually, Officer Harkness asked defendant to step onto the sidewalk. Asked for his name and birthdate, defendant readily but nervously provided both, volunteering that he was not on probation or parole. As they waited for a records check to come back, the officers asked defendant to refrain from touching the pocket of his sweatshirt. During this time period, defendant asked for, and received, permission to smoke a cigarette. Dispatch eventually came back with the information that defendant’s driver’s license had been suspended. At this point, Officer Harkness “took hold of” defendant’s right arm and told him to put his hands behind his back.


When appellant resisted, the officers took a firm grip on him to prevent him from moving or reaching into his front pocket. He was told a second time to place his hands behind his back. After again refusing to cooperate, the officers subdued defendant by placing him on his stomach and handcuffing him. Officer Soltow pat-searched defendant. Feeling what he believed to be a gun, Officer Slottow reached into appellant's front sweatshirt pocket and retrieved a loaded handgun. Defendant was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm 9 (P.C. § 29800(a)) as well as driving without a valid license (V.C. § 12500(a)) and booked into jail.


On July 17, 2015, while out on bail (and on a case not contested on appeal), defendant was contacted by another Eureka police officer while sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot at a local mall. Upon discovering that defendant had an outstanding warrant, the officer arrested him. A subsequent search of the vehicle incident to arrest resulted in a loaded firearm being found under the driver's seat. Defendant was again arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm.


With both cases consolidated for trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress the handgun from the first case. Upon denial of his motion, he pled guilty in both cases, admitted to various allegations, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Defendant appealed.  Held: The First District Court of Appeal (Div. 4) affirmed. On appeal, defendant argued that the recovery of the firearm in the first case was the product of (1) an illegal detention and (2) an illegal patdown for weapons. The Court disagreed with him on both issues. (1) The Detention: Contrary to defendant’s arguments, defendant in this case was held not have been detained until the officers attempted to handcuff him after discovering that he was in violation of V.C. § 12500(a); driving without a valid driver’s license. Up until that point, he was only being “consensually encountered.”


In so ruling it was noted that an individual is detained only at that point in a contact when police officers restrain his or her liberty by means of physical force or a show of authority. “A consensual encounter between a police officer and an individual does not amount to a detainment under the Fourth Amendment.”                           (continued on Page 10)