Elkhart expanding powers of park rangers

Elkhart, IN -- Elkhart is expanding the powers of their park rangers. Starting Thursday, those who break city ordinances in any of the three dozen parks could receive a citation from a ranger.

Barbara Rose takes her great-granddaughter Myla to at least one of the parks in the city several times a week.

“This is the kind of problems we run into, spilled trash, someone vandalized this slide. This type of a thing here could actually break a child’s leg open and require stiches,” says Rose.

Those are exactly the types of problems Park Ranger Stan McCray is hoping to prevent.

“I personally take offence when I see damage in the park because it is for everybody to use,” says McCray.

Smoking, drinking alcohol, sleeping, vandalism, and littering are all illegal in the park. Previously, only city police could cite you.

“We want people to feel comfortable and not have to worry about weeding through trash just to have a good time,” says McCray.

Violators could be forced to pay up to three hundred dollars if cited.

“That’s a fantastic perk for all of us, for anyone who visits the parks. Cause you know there’s a little more security,” says Rose.

New father Benjamin Thompson and his wife recently adopted three and a half year old Leona Bell. To bond, they’ve been coming to the park for a few hours every day.

“This is a time where we’re trying to spend a lot of time together and this park has been valuable for that. We just play around together on the slides and swings and this feels like a really safe spot,” says Thompson.

Thompson says the ability for the park rangers to be able to hand out citations makes him feel safer.A

As a former police officer, McCray is hoping to make the parks even safer and take the ranger program a step further.

“It is not an armed position at this time but it could be a possibility for us to do that. I would like to see one or two more park rangers who would work in the city, and maybe get someone full time,” says McCray.

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