The California State Park Peace Officers Association strives to further the professionalism of State Park Peace Officers and increase public understanding of the role of Rangers and Lifeguards in preserving and protecting California's State Parks and their visitors.
What's This All About?
State Park Peace Officers protect the best of California
The state budgets for approximately 365 sworn rangers and 69 sworn lifeguards for 279 State Park units totaling 1.4 million acres with nearly 80 million visitors a year! This works out to 1.4 officers per park, down significantly from staffing levels in earlier decades when there was less acreage and visitation. But that's if the SPPO ranks were fully staffed; based on the current approximate 25% vacancy rate, this number drops to 1.1 officers per park. SPPOs have full statewide law enforcement authority and are emergency medical responders. Given their remote work locations, SPPOs are often the first on scene to emergencies and may be called upon to assist statewide in major disasters.
More to the job than sunsets...
SPPOs often work alone and without backup, outdoors in all weather, and at all hours including on weekends and holidays. They serve in many specialized assignments such as the dive team, off-road patrol and K9 teams. In addition to public safety, SPPOs oversee the day-to-day park operations and administration of parks including revenue collection, trail and facility maintenance, and interpretive programs.
A less than picturesque reality...
Despite being in what is statistically one of the most dangerous law enforcement careers, SPPOs are the lowest paid public safety patrol officers in the state. As a result of decades of inadequate budgets and a lack of management support, SPPOs contend with critically low staffing, unsustainable workloads, a lack of training opportunities, and inadequate vehicles and safety gear. Since 1999 there has been a 163% increase in crimes reported in State Parks! In many parks, staff radios do not function in more than 50% of the park!
CSPPOA advocates for State Park Peace Officers. Some key issues: