Conservation park rangers request carrying shotguns and rifles - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Conservation park rangers request carrying shotguns and rifles

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KWWL) -

One county conservation group is considering upping its arsenal.  Conservation Park Rangers in Washington County are asking to carry rifles and shotguns, like their deputy counterparts. They say recent events and safety concerns are the reasons why.

Washington County Ranger Technician, Jayse Horning, doesn't find himself in dangerous situations too often. He says much of his job is communication with people and campers.

"They're super great people.  I mean, I've only ran into a handful that I've had problems with, but most people are really easy to get along with," Horning said.

Though, there are days where bad situations do arise where, he says, having a shotgun or rifle is sometimes necessary.

"You want to be prepared for the times that you do need it, and hope you never have to," he said.

Horning said often times when their situations are in rural park areas of the county, they're the first to arrive to the scene. It's dealing with their terrain that he said long guns are an important tool to have.

"Coming out here, open areas, you never know what you're going to find when you get there, and a lot of people do.  Everybody has access to these weapons, so we should too," he said.

On their duty belt they carry a handgun, taser, baton, pepper spray, handcuffs, and a flash light. None of those things help with dealing with long-range situations.

"Rifles are a lot more accurate and, to keep myself safe and everybody else safe, if I were to have to take a shot, I'd feel a lot more comfortable," Horning said.

Whatever the situation, Horning said having accessibility to these guns can bring a peace of mind to everyone.

"That way, I can protect myself. Everybody else is protected. People come to the parks to enjoy themselves, but you never know when you're going to get caught in that scenario," he said.

Park Rangers in Washington County are sometimes called in as backup to other law enforcement. Horning said this also helps them deal with on-site suicidal situations, which are a somewhat common occurrence. 

Discussions with the Washington County Conservation Board have already taken place. A proposal about the idea will be submitted to them next month.

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