The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District – MWCD Rangers – have joined the ranks of nearly 75 percent of Ohio’s Law Enforcement officers by receiving the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Agency Certification.
MWCD rangers received final certification for Group One standards which include Use of Force, and Recruitment and Hiring. The MWCD will continue to pursue certification for Group 2,3,4. Currently, almost 500 agencies employing over 26,000 officers are participating in the certification process.
“Our rangers work countless hours to ensure the safety of not only the guests who visit the MWCD lakes but also the surrounding communities,” said John Maxey, MWCD Chief Ranger. “We hold our rangers to high standards and offer the most up-to-date training to make certain they know how to handle a wide variety of situations they may face throughout their day. It can range from opportunities to engage with the community and educate about our natural resources, all the way to deescalating a tense situation or providing mutual aid to nearby departments. By achieving this certification, it shows the community the level of service that we aim to provide.”
To obtain the certification, agencies must meet statewide standards set by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, and the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Agency Certification Program. The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board was formed in 2015 in an effort to strengthen community and police relations. The 12-person panel is composed of law enforcement experts and community leaders from throughout the state.
MWCD Rangers are required to be certified police officers within the State of Ohio and have full police powers on MWCD property and adjacent property. To become a certified Police Officer, they must complete the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy. The requirements include intense training on Ohio Laws, Search and Seizure, Self Defense Training, Use of Force Training, Firearms, Pursuit Driving, Human Behaviors, De-escalation Techniques, Diversity, First Aid, and numerous other topics. The MWCD employs 34 Rangers who are guided by professional policies that are written by Lexipol and are nationally recognized as Best Practices for Law enforcement Agencies.
The job duties for a MWCD Ranger can vary daily from patrolling camp areas, cottage areas, and lakes, to providing Ohio Boater or Hunter Education Courses to the community. They also conduct safety checks, respond to noise complaints, criminal violations, and assist other nearby agencies. Lake Rangers complete vessel inspections, investigate boating accidents and patrol the waterways to ensure safety.
In 2020, the MWCD reenergized Community Policing efforts and partnered with area Law Enforcement Agencies to hold a “Ranger Day” at each park. This event gave the opportunity for the public to talk with the Rangers and Area Law Enforcement Officials in a very positive way. Children participated in activities and had the opportunity to look through the patrol cars and meet the officers. The Rangers are committed to working with the public to improve our Parks and communities and this type of effort will be continued in 2021.
“I am very proud of the MWCD Ranger Department for this accomplishment,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director. “Throughout the year, our Rangers receive many hours of education and training to ensure that we are adopting the most up-to-date policing standards, and this certification validates the efforts we have made. We strive to develop relationships within our communities to ensure a safe atmosphere within our parks, cottage areas, and beyond.”