Two fully commissioned park rangers could patrol Chiawana and Memorial parks in Pasco.
On Monday evening, the Pasco City Council discussed using some of the city's portion of the public safety sales tax to increase security at city parks.
Pasco has hired seasonal park rangers the last few years, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield. But the rangers have no arrest or citation authority. The best they can do is radio a police officer for help, which could take too long.
While having park rangers has helped, Crutchfield said it isn't to the degree the city would like to see.
Pasco is considering trying to hire state-commissioned park rangers for six to seven months to patrol parks during the peak season. They would be able to cite or arrest and would carry guns, Crutchfield said.
The city hopes to hire park rangers who have been laid off in recent state budget cuts.
And the rangers could be provided with bicycles so they could help cover paths, Crutchfield said.
A gang-related shooting in Chiawana Park during summer 2010 showed how things can get out of hand, Crutchfield said.
The city also has received an increasing number of complaints, including those about dogs off leashes, he said. Other conflicts have been related to gang activity, according to city documents.
The cost of hiring two seasonal commissioned park rangers would be $50,000 to $55,000 a year, Crutchfield said. That's an increase of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
The added expense would fit under the objectives of the 0.3 percent public safety sales tax that voters passed in November, he said.
The city also plans to use its portion of the sales tax to pay for a street crimes unit, new municipal court space and a police station.
Crutchfield said he will need to talk with the police union because there is a potential conflict if park rangers perform the same duties as police officers.
Councilman Al Yenney and Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said they think it's a good idea.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com