The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association Tuesday announced its support of a City Council effort to arm the city’s park rangers.

A motion was filed in February by City Councilman Joe Buscaino that asks the city to explore ways to arm the park rangers — including with guns. Buscaino said the rangers face dangerous situations on a daily basis.

“For too long, the highly trained Park Ranger Division has faced the difficult obstacle of protecting the community without a way to protect themselves from the dangers of the job,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain said. “LAAPOA fully stands behind and supports our park rangers during their quest to become armed once and for all.”

LAAPOA board member Francisco Pimentel, who spent years as a park safety officer and park ranger beginning in 1989, said he had been shot at while on field assignments, but he had few options for self-defense, according to a statement by the association.

“I’ve had to wrestle a gun out of a suspect’s pocket and have taken down suspects who have violently attacked other rangers,” Pimentel said. “The biggest benefit this (proposal) would bring is safety. Park rangers patrol many parks in bad neighborhoods and high-crime areas and need the tools to keep themselves and others safe.”

Buscaino’s motion stated that every sworn park ranger assigned to the city’s Park Ranger Division is required to complete a six-month Certified Academy Training Course, which includes, among other things, firearm training. The course is administered by California Police Officer Standard and Training.

“(Park rangers) already receive firearm training from LAPD, and they’re being asked to do a lot more,” Buscaino told the Los Angeles Times in February. “This is just giving added protection to those rangers who are the front lines of public safety in our parks.”

The proposal has struck a nerve with advocates of homeless people, as Echo Park Lake has been the site of several protests and arguments with city staff who conduct cleanups at the park, though city officials said they don’t evict the homeless people from the park.

Last week, a video was posted to social media of a physical confrontation at Echo Park Lake between one of the homeless residents and law enforcement officers.

Arielle Sallai, an activist with Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles, told the Times the proposal is “extremely dangerous” and “a reflection of overblown fears that people have about unhoused people in public spaces.”

“It terrifies me,” Sallai told the newspaper of the prospect of arming park rangers. “Unhoused folks are the ones who are unsafe here.”

Michael Novick, a resident who submitted written communication to the City Council, called the idea “crazy.”

“We don’t need a whole other set of armed cops in our city parks,” he wrote, adding a list of people who have allegedly been shot at in parks by police officers. “We don’t want armed park rangers around our kids in the parks and recreation areas of Los Angeles. It will make nobody feel more secure, and a lot of kids feel more threatened and unwanted and endangered.”

Buscaino’s motion will first be heard by the City Council’s Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts and Recreation Committee on a date that has not yet been scheduled.

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