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Visitor Assistance Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q. Why is there such emphasis on the Policy aspect of Visitor Assistance?
    A. The results of the 1995 Visitor and Park Ranger Safety Study contained 54 recommendations. Nearly two thirds of them were within existing policy and guidance that was not being carried out. In Visitor Assistance training sessions over the past 20 years, students were asked what were the three biggest problems they have in carrying out their jobs, and Inconsistent Interpretation/Application of policies has been the most oft-mentioned response. This is one of the core issues to be addressed in improving the program.

    Q. Why are Corps Park Rangers not commissioned law enforcement officers like some NPS and other federal Park Rangers?
    A. The authorizing legislation placing us in the Recreation-Natural Resources Management business did not prohibit that- it is an agency policy decision that was made, has been reviewed several times, and continues to be the policy we follow today. The agency had concerns about safety, as well as the avoidance of employees of the Army being in a law enforcement role over civilian populations. We also consider our Park Rangers to be professional land and resource managers rather than law enforcement officers.

    Q. Does the Corps really care about recreation?
    A. Yes, as is evident in the dedication of the Corps business functions in recognizing recreation as vital part of the Corps mission to the Nation. As with the Corps now being recognized as the Nations leading provider of outdoor recreation activities.

    Q. Why do I have to now take Basic VA after I've been doing visitor assistance duties for 10 years?
    A. As discussed in the Policy question above, the continuity and quality of our program depends on consistent interpretation and application of the policy.

    Q. What kind of training should I have?
    A. By following the link to our Training section, you may find information on courses available. In Good Enough to Share, we have posted a draft curriculum which would meet the requirements for refresher training in accordance with current guidance.

    Q. What is the status of the Pepper Spray program?
    A. On April 18, 2002, the Pepper Spray program was authorized to be implemented on a Nationwide basis. Each MSC Commander was given authorization to implement to Pepper Spray program in their Districts. See the memo from Steve Austin on USACE Pepper Spray Authorization.

    Q. Whatever happened to the Ranger Safety Study and the recommendations that resulted from it?
    A. There is a summary of that study and its results and recommendations here.

    Q. In the field, we are encountering Meth labs in our parks and remote areas. Is there any recognition of this hazard and any guidance available for dealing with it?
    A. The Clandestine Meth Lab problem became evident to us in the early 1990s. In recognizing the need to provide awareness training to our personnel in the field, training was obtained through Federal/State/Local Law Enforcement Agencies. In the Good Enough to Share link, there are additional training opportunites and information that is available. Several Districts have developed training opportunities and SOPs addressing this (including Nashville District's Meth lab SOP for Nashville in cases where our Rangers are discovering Meth Labs on property).

    Q. Where can I obtain Park Ranger Vehicle markings?
    A. You may obtain the vehicle decals from a local vendor using the standards as provided in the guidelines in EC1130-2-212. The Pittsburgh District has a sign shop that can produce these. The orders would be subject to the sign shop's workload at the time, and individual projects should work through their District or Division coordinators to inquire.

    Q. Is there a bulletin board of some kind where NRM personnel can exchange ideas or ask questions?
    A. Located at the NRM Network Question & Answer webpage, you may submit a question or search the database for information pertaining to a problem you may have occurring.

    Q. Is there any recognition or efforts to address the needs of team members who have been involved in a traumatic event, such as a drowning, accident, death of a co-worker, etc.?
    A. Yes, it's entitled a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Program. CISM is a peer-driven stress management program that combines pre-crisis preparation, stress education, and post-event response to help people recover more quickly from abnormally stressful job-related incidents and trauma, collectively known as "critical incidents." The Corps' program was pioneered in the Southwest Division, Tulsa District, with Terry Holt, Park Manager taking the lead in implementing the program. On May 31, 2006, the CISM program was authorized to be implemented Nationwide.

    Q. With the increase in activities due to the recreation user fee program, we need a system to effectively track Citations and Written Warnings. Is there an OTS system out there?
    A. Many projects with large Visitor Assistance efforts have developed programs of this nature within the Microsoft applications. The programs from Sidney Lanier Lake in Mobile District, SAD, and Lewisville Lake, Fort Worth District, SWD are posted in our [Good Enough To Share] link. Eventually however, this information should be entered and accessed through OMBIL.

    Q. What is the Corps of Engineers' position on the purchase and wear of bullet-proof vests by employees at their own expense?
    A. There is no prohibition against an employee purchasing their own vest and it is worn discreetly under the uniform and adheres with the proper wear of the uniform. Additional information is provided in the ER/EP 1130-2-550, Chapter 6.

    Q. What is Corps Policy on seizure of property from an individual, particularly artifacts that may have been excavated on Corps lands?
    A. ER 1130-2-550, Chapter 6, Section 6-2.e(1) states that Corps of Engineers Operations Managers, Resource Managers, and Park Rangers cannot arrest, search or seize individuals or their property in the course of their duties. If the individual claims ownership of items you may not seize them. If NRM personnel are going to approach suspected looters of cultural or historic/pre-historic sites, they should be accompanied by law enforcement officers. If there is then cause to believe a crime has been committed, those officers may take possession of that property. The Fort Worth District has a specific policy on ARPA Seizures and you may find it at the Good Enough To Share link.

    Q. Can Corps Park Rangers perform citizen's arrests while on duty?
    A. ER 1130-2-550, Chapter 6, Section 6-2.e(1) states that Corps Operations Managers, Resource Managers, and Park Rangers cannot arrest, search or seize individuals or their property in the course of their duties. They may request visitors to stop but may cannot physically detain them. Section 6-2.j states that Corps personnel while on duty will not be deputized by law enforcement agencies, and further instructs that those that are deputized or commissioned by any law enforcement agency may not perform the duties of that office on or off civil works installations during duty hours or while wearing the Corps uniform, and are also prohibited from performing those duties on civil works installations during their off-duty hours. From this language, it is clear that Corps policy intends that our NRM personnel will not perform law enforcement functions on civil works projects at any time, on or off duty, regardless of circumstances.

    Q. What are the proper steps in reporting a Pepper Spray incident?
    A. As in accordance the SOP set up for the program, the uniform reporting steps include notifying the District's POC as directed by the District's Pepper Spray SOP.

    Q. Who do I contact to submit a question concerning the Visitor Assistance program?
    A. Send all questions to Jonathan Carlisle

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