RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) - One East Bay city has launched a new program to keep its residents safer, while at the same time beautifying public areas.
Richmond will now have park rangers patrolling the city's Greenway and Bay Trail.
"Not a police presence, but an official city presence in some of our open spaces, recreational areas," says Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown.
Afterschool and weekends will be the peak times for the rangers. So expect to see green all-terrain vehicles driving along public parks.
Richmond hired four part-time employees to serve as rangers, which will be part of the city's community policing program.
"Their function is to be out there to interact with members of the public, to supply information," says Brown.
Each ranger receives more than 200 hours of training, including CPR. They'll also take reports of lost and stolen items. But their main job is to serve as the liaison between park goers and police.
"We take notes about what needs to be done in the parts. If there's a maintenance issue or a security concern," says Park Ranger Daren Harris.
Back in February of this year, 14-year-old Xavier McClanahan was shot and killed on this bike and pedestrian walkway. It’s one of the areas that will be monitored by the rangers. City leaders hope with a more official presence. Crimes like this won't happen again.
"If something is used by residence than it’s more likely to be a safe place. So it can prevent things like that from happening," says Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay. "Having a consistent presence there and having people who are interacting with our patrons in the Greenway will give us that advantage so we will know exactly what is going on," says Richmond Police Officer Miles Bailey.
Each ranger is equipped with pepper spray for their safety, but most importantly a radio which will give them direct access to police. The city hopes they can expand the program in the future.