Many People in Maine Believe Forest Rangers Should Be Armed. But Are They Really in Danger?
Maine’s Wardens, Marine Patrol officers, and Forest Rangers are under review by a task force in Augusta.
The task force was formed by Executive Order by Governor Paul LePage back in May after the legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice heard a great deal of public testimony surrounding the proposal to train our state’s forest rangers and equip them with firearms.
Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris is the Task Force Chair and they’re looking for any efficiency that might exist in combining the three natural resources law enforcement agencies into a more efficient single unit.
Commissioner Morris says they’re also charged with providing the Governor one honest answer for the question at the center of the controversy over whether or not to arm our forest rangers.
"There is one question that has to be responded to concerning the arming of forest rangers and that question is, are we putting forest rangers in harms way? That question has to be resolved and answered," states Commissioner Morris.
Public testimony earlier this year was divided with some veteran law enforcement officers suggesting it would be immoral to require forest rangers to enforce forestry laws today without the protection of a firearm, others adamantly disagreed.
Commissioner Morris says he instructed the other members of the task force to leave any preconceived notions or bias outside of the meeting room as they work to determine the best model for Maine’s natural resources law enforcement.
The report should be ready for the Governor in November. Any proposed changes to the agencies would require legislative action.