Governor Ehrlich Announces Consolidation of Natural Resources Police and State Forest & Park Service Rangers
ANNAPOLIS — Demonstrating his commitment to increasing government efficiency, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. today announced the consolidation of the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the State Forest and Park Service (SFPS) Rangers.
“It has been my promise since taking office that I would deliver a streamlined, more efficient government to the people of Maryland,” said Governor Ehrlich. “This consolidation of law enforcement units creates additional geographic and seasonal flexibility in order to meet critical conservation law and park safety needs.”
A memorandum of understanding between the State of Maryland and the State Law Enforcement Officers’ Labor Alliance (SLEOLA) was signed March 25, 2004. The consolidation will become effective January 1, 2005.
“I want to recognize the tremendous dedication, value and hard work of the members of both divisions,” said C. Ronald Franks, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. “The respect we have for these men and women – front line ambassadors who routinely face danger in their missions to protect Maryland’s citizens and natural resources – remains exemplary.”
The consolidation calls for the expansion of the Natural Resources Police to include 108 Law Enforcement Officers from the State Forest and Park Service. Natural Resources Police currently has 177 law enforcement officers. The combined organization comprising of 285 officers will continue to ensure the public’s safety as well as enforce a broader variety of laws and regulations covering boating, inland game, parks, commercial seafood harvesting, sport fishing, pollution and resource protection.
The State Forest and Park Service will continue to manage the State’s parks, forests and other public lands but will no longer be directly responsible for all law enforcement activities in those areas. However, those park managers with a law enforcement officer status will be able to retain that status and the functions associated with that duty. In addition, they will continue to be known as “Rangers” and will retain any and all privileges that the law enforcement status grants them through state law.
Both State Forest and Park Service and Natural Resources Police law enforcement officers will receive additional cross training to fulfill their wide range of duties, both at sea and on land. No employees will be laid off as a result of this action. Natural Resources Police will remain headquartered at Tawes, with four regional offices and additional offices on State Forest and Park lands.
A steering committee comprised of members from the two units will be formed to work through issues of concern to personnel, develop a timeline for cross training, and other important factors involved in the consolidation. The Administration will continue to work on addressing the outstanding staff concerns with the consolidation including having Secretary Franks meet with NRP and SFPS personnel across the State.
The consolidation of the two law enforcement agencies, both of which are divisions of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was recommended by the Governor’s Commission on Structure and Efficiency of State Government, chaired by former Governor Marvin Mandel, in its final report dated December 8, 2003. The report can be found online at http://www.dbm.state.md.us/efficiency/MCFinalReport.pdf
Posted April 2, 2004