LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Law enforcement of Arkansas State Parks was singled out as one of the finest of its kind in the country.

The Park Law Enforcement Association presented the President’s Award to the ASP Emergency Services Program at their recent annual conference.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized on a national level,” said Parks Director Grady Spann. “We are an agency that does law enforcement, we’re not a law enforcement agency. So training becomes very critical. This award recognizes the effort that we put forth to train our officers to make sure they’re professional in every situation.”

The PLEA President’s Award is given to an agency that exemplifies excellence in all aspects of park law enforcement. This includes:

  • Professionalism
  • Enhanced safety for park guests
  • Furthering the cause of park law enforcement as an area of expertise.
  • Educating visitors about the value of parks and recreation
  • Demonstrating a history of collaboration and partnership with other park professionals as well as other law enforcement partners.

“It’s all about people skills,” said Parks Operations Manager Jon Brown. “If you have a law enforcement officer who is highly trained, they will react appropriately. Normally a certification for a law enforcement officer in the Arkansas is 16 hours of training every year. We do 40. And the reason is that it’s so valuable that they have an exceptional understanding of what they’re doing so they can best protect the citizens who visit our parks.”

Credit: Arkansas State Parks

There are 90 law enforcement professionals who work in the 52 Arkansas State Parks.

Rangers responsibilities include patrolling areas of the park like trails, marinas, camp grounds, facilities, parking lots and other resources that are entrusted to Arkansas State Parks to protect. They also perform search and rescue operations when needed as well as respond to medical emergencies.

Spann said, "Our goal is to have them enjoy a unique experience and make a memory so we want to always facilitate that as much as we can.”

For more on Arkansas State Parks, click here.