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«Commanders Report: Pacific Southwest Research Station Nationwide Study General Technical Report PSW-RP-254 September 2007 Deborah J. Chavez and ...»

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I do not believe that any of the district rangers are aware of what I have ■

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• 10 percent said the NFS line officer did not want information or details • 4 percent said the NFS line officer needed training and ride-alongs • 3 percent had other comments:

They have often said they would spend time with me, but that has not ■

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The majority of PC respondents (64 percent) felt supported by LEI line officers.

Those who did not feel supported by LEI line provided 38 responses:

• 29 percent said there was a lack of resources:

Internal strife over limited dollars is the biggest issue.

■ I don’t see LEI in the Washington office trying to inform subcommittee ■ members about the funding problems we have.

• 21 percent said there was a lack of trust/understanding:

LEI line officer seems to have either no experience with what goes on ■ out in the field, or they have forgotten what it is like to be in the field.

• 13 percent said the mission was unclear:

LEI line has lost track of our mission.

■ • 11 percent said there was a lack of contact/relationships:

I do feel supported by my immediate supervisor, but it falls off higher ■

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• 5 percent said there was resentment toward law enforcement • 21 percent had other comments:

My perception is that my job is to support LEOs in their job while ■ upper management seems to think my job is to respond to requests for data and information.

LEI line officers are reluctant to change with changing conditions.

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(FY2004) as compared to FY2003, and then were asked to specify which ones were more common during the week, during daytime hours, or when the area was more crowded. We also asked if the PCs have ever been threatened or attacked because of their job.

At least 45 percent of the PC respondents said the following 12 activities had

increased from FY2003 to FY2004 (see table 2); in rank order:

• Dumping of household waste

• Criminal damage

• Dumping of landscape waste

• Shooting (indiscriminate)

• Thefts of public property

• Thefts of visitor personal property

• Personnel threats

• Methamphetamine chemical dump

• Methamphetamine labs

• Road hazards

• Marijuana cultivation

• Domestic violence No activities were seen to be decreasing from FY2003 to FY2004 by a majority of respondents.

At least 45 percent of the PC respondents said the following nine activities had

remained the same from FY2003 to FY2004 (see table 2); in rank order:

• Murder

• Body dumping

• Rape / sexual assault

• Wildlife hazards

• Arson

• Suicides

• Weather hazards

• Drive-by shooting

• Armed defense of forest products Of the above patrol activities (table 2), the five more common during the week (rather than the weekend) were dumping of household waste (51 percent), dumping of landscape waste (43 percent), criminal damage (26 percent), methamphetamine labs (24 percent), methamphetamine chemical dump (23 percent), and thefts of public property (23 percent).

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Harassment and intimidation, and threats while off-duty from neighbor.

■ • 5 percent said incidents were related to drug activity.

• 5 percent said incidents occurred during contacts with recreation visitors.

• 5 percent said incidents were related to large groups.

• 53 percent had other comments:

I had a firearm pulled on me by an older man who was occupying ■

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Priorities The PC respondents provided comments on priority issues. The responses were quite varied and were grouped into these categories: fiscal, management, occupational ideals, natural resource protection, safety, update rules and regulations, cooperation, and other. Most had comments related to funding.

Examples of priority issues facing the law enforcement profession in the Forest

Service today were:

• 77 percent said the priority was fiscal:

Not enough funding for personnel or equipment.

■ Need funding in order to be proactive, rather than reactive.

■ We need sufficient funding in order to have a viable organization.

■ • 40 percent said the priority was management:

We really need good management and leadership.

■ Without effective leadership, it is doubtful that budget and staffing ■

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• 36 percent said the priority was occupational ideals:

We need to focus on the quality of our employees.

■ • 19 percent said the priority was natural resource protection:

The increased demands and use of USFS lands and facilities ■

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• 73 percent said Forest Service employees • 26 percent said local agencies • 11 percent said the natural and cultural resources • 11 percent said law-abiding users • 10 percent said violators of rules and regulations • 9 percent said adjacent landowners • 10 percent had other comments:

Contractors ■ We also asked what the PCs think these customers want from LEI on NFS lands. Most comments were related to safety/protection. Other comments were grouped into prevention, conservation, action, use/access, unregulated activity, regulations that are clear and concise, crime opportunities, and other.

• 71 percent said customers want safety/protection:

The forest visitor wants a safe, quality experience for themselves and ■

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• 20 percent said customers want use/access:

They want to use the forests and be treated with respect.

■ • 16 percent said customers want prevention:

They want to see our presence on national forests.

■ • 11 percent said customers want action:

They want frequent patrols, keeping the peace, and adequate response ■

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• 4 percent said customers want unregulated activity • 3 percent said customers want regulations that are clear and concise • 3 percent said customers want opportunities to commit crimes • 29 percent had other comments:

They want to see a “ranger” who is friendly.

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Illegal occupancy (mostly homeless persons) ■ Forest users— We asked what special problems PCs have protecting forest users in their patrol area of responsibility. We grouped respondent comments into the following categories: lack basic patrol equipment/officers/cooperative agreements, remote/too large area to cover, drug activity, social conflicts, increasing uses, hostility/armed use, and other. Responses were varied, but most mentioned they lack the basic patrol equipment/officers/cooperative agreements and/or remote/too large an area to cover.

Some examples follow:

• 51 percent said lack of patrol equipment/officers/cooperative agreements:

In the past 5 years, LEI staffing has been reduced about 35 percent on ■

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• 36 percent said remote/too large an area to cover adequately:

Some areas are remote and can only be accessed by aircraft or boat.

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• 19 percent said drug activity:

The increase of methamphetamine labs and methamphetamine dumps ■ has increased danger to forest users.

• 10 percent said social conflicts:

Lots of visitors in concentrated areas ■ • 9 percent said increasing uses • 4 percent said hostility/armed use • 20 percent had other comments:

Crowded areas sometimes lead to problems with users or the ■

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Almost half of the PC respondents (49 percent) said they had special policing programs that have worked well. They provided 54 comments about those programs.

• 28 percent said cooperation with other agencies:

We coordinate patrols with other law enforcement agencies on a ■

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• 26 percent said patrol/visibility:

We have “emphasis” patrols where I bring in many officers to one area ■ to get extensive exposure along with accompanying media exposure.

Saturation of problem areas has worked well.

■ • 15 percent said community involvement:

Put on demonstrations at schools and other community events.

■ • 9 percent said public education • 4 percent said public contact • 2 percent said specialized equipment • 17 percent had other comments:

Tribal self-regulation on the national forests.

■ We asked how PCs measure the success of the policing programs. Most of the responses were related to positive perceptions and reductions in violations.

• 44 percent said public/employee/cooperator perceptions are positive:

By the reduction of complaints filed by the public concerning ■ violations.

We have many more people willing to provide information on issues ■ affecting our policing program and illegal activities than ever before.

Positive comments from the public and USFS employees.

■ • 34 percent said reduction in violations:

Measured reduction in observed crimes and damage.

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• 9 percent said cases are up-to-date • 7 percent said preservation of natural resources • 14 percent had other comments:

If training principles and practices are utilized by officers while doing ■

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• 33 percent said understanding/interaction:

Acceptance as an integral part of the agency.

■ Integrated into agency functions with good internal and external ■

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• 30 percent said leadership:

We need good leadership who stay around.

■ A program with leadership that can clearly define and promote ■

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• 24 percent said personnel:

We need to put LEOs where the activity is and someone needs to ■ work with Congress to make them understand the needs of the field.

• 17 percent said occupational ideals:

We meet the needs of our customers and create safe recreation ■

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• 16 percent said support/trust • 13 percent said consistent policies/regulations • 11 percent said good communication • 16 percent had other comments:

Any program that increases our effectiveness and efficiency in ■ protecting the public, employees, and resources.

PC respondents were asked to describe a successful regional program.

Responses differed widely and were grouped into the following categories:

• 34 percent said understanding/interaction:

Appreciation is given to the people on the ground.

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• 14 percent said good communications • 14 percent said support/trust • 11 percent said leadership • 3 percent said consistent policies/regulations • 24 percent had other comments:

Reduce criminal activity with the number of LEOs currently assigned ■

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Other Comments We asked the PC respondents if there was anything else they would like to tell us.

Some were positive, some were negative, and others were about the survey itself.

Positive comments included these:

• I love my job, but wish it were as a fulltime LEO.

• Law enforcement has come a long way over the years. I believe the USFS is a good agency.

• I thoroughly enjoy my work in law enforcement.

Negative comments included these:

• The USFS is an excellent agency, but it has gone downhill over the years.

Budget cuts mean we all have to do more with less, and it is no fun anymore.

• We have gone from a family-oriented organization to one that does not care about families.

Comments about the survey included these:

• The data collected ought to go to everyone in the USFS, not just LEI.

• I really hope this survey helps law enforcement.

Discussion This was the third in a series of studies evaluating perceptions of law enforcement personnel in the USFS. The ultimate goals of the work are threefold. First, the LEI studies serve as a followup to a previous qualitative study to learn more about crime and violence on national forests and grasslands, and about the impacts on recreation visitation and management of those national forests (Chavez and Tynon 2000, Tynon et al. 2001, and see footnote 1). Second, the LEI studies serve as a followup to a previous qualitative study testing the key characteristics of success in law enforcement, measuring opinions about recreation visitor and public safety,

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rise. These are some of the same activities described in earlier qualitative studies (Chavez and Tynon 2000, Tynon et al. 2001, and see footnote 1).

Current successes in law enforcement were described as successes in solving crimes and getting convictions, good cooperation, and proactive programs.

Several of the descriptions matched the key characteristics of success identified in earlier studies (Chavez et al. 2004, Tynon and Chavez 2005). These characteristics included adequate personnel and funding, collaboration, and communication. These also tie into the characteristics identified as integral to a successful law enforcement program including adequate resources and understanding.

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