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Metro Park Rangers Will Not Carry Guns

SOUTH COLUMBUS (James Jackson) -- Metro Parks Board members voted down the idea of armed rangers Tuesday. The board held a meeting at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park and came up with recommendations to make the parks safer. Those recommendations did not include giving rangers guns.

Safety is a top priority for Paul Hilsheimer, who walks his dog through the park a few times per week.

"I love it," he said. "From German Village, it's a good walk down here and back."

Hilsheimer said he has heard rumors of occasional trouble in the park and intends to keep his family out of harms way. "It's for their safety. You don't want them to be afraid of walking in a park," Hilsheimer said.

To ease those fears, 19 full-time rangers patrol the metro parks in seven central Ohio Counties. Board member Jeff McNealey said he doesn't believe giving rangers guns is the answer.

"We do have some problems periodically with minor theft, minor crime. Minor incidents of an interpersonal nature," McNealey said. "But, we haven't had major crimes worthy of arming anybody."

Rangers are armed with handcuffs and mace.

"We train all of our rangers to be able to handle and diffuse situations before they arise," McNealey said.

McNealey says they will also consider giving rangers tasers and batons in the future.
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