In a 2-1 vote, a Los Angeles City Council committee voted to move forward with a motion that would allow park rangers to be armed with guns.
Arts, Parks, Health, Education and Neighborhoods Committee consists of council members Mike Bonin, John Lee and Joe Buscaino, with the latter two voting in favor of the motion.
Buscaino — a former LAPD officer —presented the motion, arguing that park rangers train like LAPD officers and face situations similar to police officers.
“Our city’s parks are safe havens— a place to congregate, play and relax and exercise for many individuals and families during the pandemic, at a time when many other public spaces were closed,” Buscaino said during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “The true safety of our parks in open spaces are dependent upon equipping the rangers who are charged with protecting them, with the right tools to do so.”
Buscaino added that park rangers currently have to contact LAPD and wait for a response, risking “precious time and resources” during emergencies.
Councilman Bonin voted against the motion, arguing that it is “the opposite” of the city council’s calls for “reimagining public safety” in 2020.
“The overwhelming message from most of elected officials of the city of los Angeles… was that we need to reimagine public safety,” Bonin said Tuesday. “I don’t think that most people thought that when we talked about getting armed police officers out of certain aspects of daily life in Los Angeles, that it meant we would start arming other people to deal with those issues.”
Several Angelenos who called in for public comment spoke against the motion, as well, calling parks “sanctuaries” that do not need armed officers. A caller also expressed fears over a belief that armed rangers would be “harassing people who don’t have homes.”
The proposal will now be seen by the L.A. City Council Public Safety Committee.