Graduates reap benefits from community college |

Graduates reap benefits from community college

Lee Harstad

Five graduates from Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) have become full-time law enforcement rangers with the U.S. National Park Service.

Educated through CNCC Law Enforcement Training Academy and the CNCC National Park Service (NPS) Seasonal Law Enforcement Training, these five students last month completed an 11-week program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga.

The students, who are now Level I graduates, are Randall K. Flanery (Kansas City, Mo.), Walter Merritt (Ft. Worth, Texas), Marc V. Yeston (Breckenridge, Colo.) Michael C. Hardin (Austin, Texas) and Kenneth Thompson (Rapid City, S.D.).

CNCC is one of 11 colleges in the nation to offer a seasonal ranger training program approved to provide the NPS Seasonal Law Enforcement Training. According to CNCC Criminal Justice Program/Academy Director Steve Whittmore, the program has been at CNCC since 1989 and it is a stepping stone for people wanting to become involved as rangers with the Park Service. Completing the 285 required hours at CNCC includes academic and skills training that enables students to attend training programs such as the law enforcement training academy.

“The program builds a really rounded-out officer,” Whittmore said. “They have more people skills.”

According to Whittmore, through academics students learn about constitutional law and personal rights. Students also obtain instruction on firearms, driving and arrest procedure.

The exclusive CNCC training program is designed to prepare the seasonal ranger to perform law enforcement duties in areas administered by the NPS. Successful graduates are eligible to receive a Level II law enforcement commission.

A Level II commission limits the seasonal ranger in authority and responsibilities. It enables the bearer to carry firearms, make arrests, investigate violations of the Code of Federal Regulations, investigate motor vehicle accidents (excluding fatalities), take initial reports on felonies and assist in follow-up investigations under the supervision and direction of an employee with a Level I law enforcement commission.

The number of NPS students completing Basic Law Enforcement for Land Management Agencies for the fiscal year 1999 was 45. Of the 45, 43 previously attended one of the 11 schools offering a seasonal law enforcement school.

Students receive certification after completing course work and then fill out an application scored by the U.S. National Registry. Law requires NPS to hire those with the best scores and the CNCC program helps in achieving employment.

“Although jobs are not guaranteed for graduates, this is what the National Park Service is looking for,” Whittmore said.

Rangers are usually employed during peak seasons from May 1 through Oct. 31 and may work in any one of the National Parks throughout the country.

Seasonal Rangers are first classified at a Step 5 level of federal employment. The next season they could be classified as a Step 7, and after their third season could be classified as a Step 9. At that point, the seasonal ranger may be considered as a full-time law enforcement ranger and will attend the Federal law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga.. The training is for 11 weeks in one of the Basic Law Enforcement for Land Management Agency academies. Upon completing this training, the student receives a Level I law Enforcement Commission.

Anyone interested in obtaining a full-time law enforcement ranger position is encouraged to contact the National Park Service or CNCC.