The following story and video were shared with us by Cop Blocker ‘Nasty’ Nathaniel Thomas, a second time contributor, at our SUBMIT PAGE. We look forward to seeing more of his work. His draft was edited by Joshua Scott Hotchkin, who enjoys interpretive casseroles and making love to robotic shapeshifters.
Howdy folks. Here in the city of Santa Maria, California we have something called the City Rangers. I first started noticing these pickup trucks and SUV’s driving around town with the words “City Ranger” painted on the side of them when I returned to this area a little more than a year ago. I never remembered seeing or hearing anything about any City Ranger before. But then again it had been more than a decade since I last lived in Santa Maria.
It didn’t take me long to discover that the City Rangers were a new law enforcement agency created here in Santa Maria several years ago. They are a division of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. Basically they are Park Police, as they patrol the parks throughout the city of Santa Maria, as well as the Public Library.
Now please keep in mind that these City Rangers are not private security. They are peace officers that have police academy training, and just like a regular city cop, they have the power to write citations and make arrests. I have seen them do both.
It also didn’t take me long to realize that their main purpose seemed to be to harass the homeless people that like to hang out in the cities parks. There is one park in particular here in Santa Maria that the City Rangers like to target more than others. It is called Perlman Park and it is located on the corner of Main and Broadway directly across the street from the Town Center Mall. I started noticing that the City Rangers always seemed to be in that park making contact with the homeless people that hang out there.
So one day I decided to go over there and see what was going on. Not even a minute after I sat down on the grass I saw two City Ranger vehicles pull into the park and detain two Hispanic men. So I pulled out my camera and began filming what took place. Soon afterward I began a homeless woman approached me and asked why I was filming. At first she seemed upset that I was doing this, but once I explained to her why I was filming and what Cop Block was all about, she relaxed. I’m actually glad that this woman made contact with me because she provided some interesting information about these City Rangers and what they actually do. You can hear her explaining this in the video here.
The reason these two men in the video were being detained was because they were both in the restroom at the same time. Apparently there is not supposed to be two people in the restroom at the same time. Is this some kind of a law? I have walked through that park multiple times and I have never seen any signs posted anywhere stating this and listing a municipal code. Illegal use of a public restroom? I have never even heard of such a thing. But according to the City Ranger it is. Did they just dream this up in order to generate revenue for the city and/or to harass profiled segments of the populace?
Another thing that this homeless woman pointed out to me was how the City Rangers will sit across the street in the Bank Of America parking lot next to the mall and watch the activity taking place at Perlman Park. I walked over to the Bank Of America parking lot and found that there is a clear view of the park and the public restrooms located there. When I returned to the area the following day I noticed that the City Rangers do indeed sit in this parking lot and watch the park.
But here’s my question? Why do they seem to focus on Perlman Park so much? What about all the other parks in the city? I actually visited some different parks throughout the city and spent a considerable amount of time in each one to see if I would come across some City Ranger activity. Nothing. I didn’t even see any City Rangers patrolling in the other parks that I visited. So it is pretty obvious that they are targeting Perlman Park for the reason that there are a lot of homeless people that like to hang out there. I am sure that there are a lot of things that we could call this. Harassment. Profiling. Discrimination. But whatever you choose to call it, I say that it is WRONG.
I think that what people should do is to start making complaints about these City Rangers and address them to Recreation and Parks Director Alexander Posada. I could see if these homeless folks hanging out in the park were creating major disturbances, such as fights, drug dealing or other criminal activity. But this is not the case. Two people being in the public restroom at the same time is not a crime. Director Posada needs to have these things pointed out to him. Much thanks for reading.
Director of Recreation & Parks
City Phone: (805) 925.0951 x260
City Fax: (805) 925.4508