MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A change is on the way for who patrols and monitors parks in Memphis. ABC24 News learned hiring is underway to bring in nearly a dozen park rangers.
That will free up the already undermanned Memphis Police Department to focus their patrol efforts elsewhere.
Both the city's park director and park users agree the arrangement is a win-win for public safety.
"It makes me feel better about coming to our parks," Memphis park user Cindy McCrae said.
That's how McCrae reacted Wednesday, when told newly hired park rangers would soon monitor all of the Bluff City's 150 developed parks - including Sea Isle - where she takes her children regularly.
"I think that's a great idea. Anything to increase safety would be awesome because we love our neighborhood and we want to do everything we can to keep it safe," McCrae added.
"It's a tradeoff, we provide that security without necessarily having MPD in our parks," City of Memphis Parks Director Nick Walker said.
Walker said the rangers will be in place by the spring, with the hopes additional part-time rangers will be okayed next summer.
That'll free up more MPD officers to focus their attention elsewhere.
"It certainly is a huge benefit because, like I said, we want to be good partners and want to make sure MPD has all the resources they need to focus on their business," Walker added.
Walker said the Memphis park rangers will not only be there to drive through parks and address issues, they'll also be utilized to educate and assist parkgoers and improve the overall experience.
"We know where folks gather. We know where there are problematic activities. And we also know where there is an opportunity for us to come in and help folks better know how to use the parks," Walker said.
As for McCrae, she's thankful they'll soon be another layer of patrol and protection at all Bluff City parks.
"As a mom we tend to worry a lot, so anything that gives mothers an extra peace of mind I think is wonderful," McCrae said.
They City of Memphis' park rangers won't carry weapons but will have some enforcement capabilities and also be another set of eyes to monitor potential car break-ins.