Al Nash, a spokesperson in the public affairs office of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., explained the difference between SWAT teams and SET squads to WorldNetDaily.
For administrative purposes, the National Park Service has grouped the states in the lower 48 into five regions. Alaska is its own region.
There are 1,577 full-time, permanent law-enforcement rangers within the Park Service, with an additional 400 seasonal law-enforcement rangers in the summer.
Each region has one or more SET teams – select groups of specially trained rangers who have routine law-enforcement duties in different parks but who are part of an on-call emergency squad.
As Nash put it: “We have some groups of law-enforcement rangers with extensive experience and top-notch skills that have normal duties in any given set of parks. When we have a need for some additional law-enforcement help at any particular site we often will call in one of these teams.
“We use these folks whenever we have a given park where there’s some anticipated need for some extra law-enforcement help. So if there’s a big special event and we need to bring in some extra law-enforcement help, they’re a natural source for us to go to.”
A SWAT team would be used for a more military-style operation, one ostensibly requiring greater firepower and weaponry, like tanks, and deploying such personnel as sharpshooters.
Nash said there are 10 to 12 rangers on a SET, ready to join the local rangers when called.
The rangers of one SET are not based at a specific park, but are scattered among a number of parks. However, they generally are drawn from the parks within a given geographic region.
All law-enforcement rangers are deputized to carry a wide variety of armaments “comparable to what most city departments have.” Also, law-enforcement rangers are issued semi-automatic weapons (specifically rifles) “when it’s necessary,” but issuance of semi-automatic weaponry is not routine, even for SET teams.
Nash stressed that “a SET is a group of people that go out on occasion as a group – it’s not just plucking one person here and one person there. They’re known commodities of persons that do work together. They train and work together as a team.”
He said SET teams are used for everything from crowd control to guarding a facility such as a dam. In particular, they’re called out when a greater influx of visitors is expected at one of the NPS units.
“Primarily, these rangers are called to service whenever we expect essentially a greater demand for some law-enforcement presence at a park. That means more people than normally because the staff can handle what that park normally sees. So almost exclusively you’re going to see that these teams are called in whenever we have some heightened kind of need. It’s almost always driven by an above-normal number of visitors.”
The Alaska SET
Jane Tranel, a spokesperson in the National Park Service’s Anchorage office, e-mailed WND some details regarding the park law enforcement and the SET squad in Alaska.
There are approximately 50 year-round commissioned law-enforcement rangers with the NPS in Alaska, with an additional 20 seasonal law-enforcement rangers added in summer to assist in road and backcountry patrols.
There is one SET squad in Alaska and it is comprised of only eight rangers rather than 12, so it is not a full team.
In a typical year, the SET is called out approximately twice. Some recent examples of callouts include: assisting with law enforcement during the Winter Olympics, protection for dignitaries and protection of national “icons” (the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell) during Homeland Security operations.
“Our law-enforcement rangers are trained professionals whose work includes, but is not limited to, providing for visitor safety and resource protection, responding to incidents and accidents, providing emergency medical services, and performing hunting and road patrols,” Tranel wrote. “They, as all National Park Service rangers, take pride providing for public enjoyment their national parks.”
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