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Will They Be Armed? Maine’s Public Safety Commissioner Works on Report for Governor

Proponents of an effort to equip and train Maine's Forest Rangers with sidearms display their message at public hearings in Augusta earlier this year. Photo -Susan Patten/ Townsquare Media
Proponents of an effort to equip and train Maine’s Forest Rangers with sidearms display their message at public hearings in Augusta earlier this year. Photo -Susan Patten/ Townsquare Media

They’re asked to enforce the natural resources laws in Maine, as are the Marine Patrol and Game Wardens, the only difference is they’re asked to do so today without the protection of a firearm.

A task force has been working for months to determine if Maine’s Forest Rangers face danger on the job, that would justify the state going to the expense to equip and train them with guns.

The task force has completed its work and now it’s up to the Commissioner of Public Safety to compile a report for Governor Paul LePage by December, based on their findings and opinions.

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.

While some people expressed concern that arming the rangers would dramatically change the relationship they now have with Maine landowners, veteran law enforcement officers suggested not arming them in today’s world would be immoral.

Commissioner Morris says the 10-member task force has thoroughly discussed the issue of whether or not forest rangers are in harms way while reviewing all three natural law enforcement agencies to see if there are ways to achieve greater efficiency.

“There’s a whole list of areas of efficiency ranging all the way from having forest rangers investigate ATV or snowmobile crashes, down to having wardens being aware of bug infestations when they’re out in the woods,” states Morris. “There’s a whole gamut and quite a few of them are directly related to the fact that if we are going to have certain efficiencies then the rangers do need to be armed.”

Commissioner Morris’s report is due to Governor in December.

Maine Public Safety Task Force Report

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