This month, the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) is spotlighting the Traffic Enforcement Bureau as a way to increase awareness about the individual divisions within the police department.
The Salt River Police Department Rangers are committed to delivering the most efficient, effective, productive and high-quality police services to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in the areas of environmental crimes and the protection of the Community’s natural resources.
“The Rangers are responsible for the Red Mountain Preserve, animal problems within the Community and conducting high-visibility patrol in the Salt and Verde River recreation areas,” said SRPD Ranger Steve Perkins. “We are police officers just like a patrol officer or a detective, this is just our assignment. We chose to work as Rangers and we are considered a Community policing division. We help the Community members a lot.”
The Rangers are all AZ POST (Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board) certified law-enforcement officers. The Rangers have also completed training to obtain their Special Law Enforcement Commission certification through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Rangers have also received special training on the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and environmental crimes.
The team consists of a three-member squad: Sgt. Norman Wellington, Off. Steven Rope and Off. Steven Perkins. Their purpose is to focus on protecting the land, animals, natural resources, archaeological sites and the people of the Community utilizing proactive enforcement efforts.
The team works closely with Community departments such as Cultural Resources and Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, acting as enforcement agent/conservation officer for the departments.
The Rangers’ most common calls are animal calls, anything dealing with dogs, cats, horses, cows and other animals. During the winter months, trespassing calls increase.
“When winter time comes around, we get a lot of trespass traffic. When Community members see things, they call us; we go out there and deal with it. The river gets really busy with people wanting to fish and hike, and the recreational Community member traffic goes down,” said Perkins.
The Rangers not only patrol the recreational areas of the Community, but they also do follow-up cases; for instance; if a Ranger stumbles upon an illegal dumping site, he will investigate. At one dumping site they combed through the debris and came across mail, which gave them an address, and they were able to charge the person for illegal dumping in the Community.
“It is a crime to dump anything out here in the Community,” said Perkins. “The last dumping case resulted in a $5,000 fine. The offender dumped mud here from a ditch from outside the Valley. The mud soaked into the ground and the offender had to pay for the clean-up. We had to dig six inches in the ground to get it all out and they had to pay and volunteer time at the landfill as community service. The offender’s vehicle was seized when he was caught dumping the mud; after he paid his fines and did his community service, he got his vehicle back.”
Perkins has always been an outdoor person. When he was at the police academy, as soon as he started to learn the outdoor laws he knew being a Ranger was what he wanted to do.
“I get to be outdoors all the time, and I get to be one-on-one with all the Community members and [have] a more positive role with the Community members. I am currently working on a huge project right now, which will be a conservation club for the kids to get them out there to work with the horse camp. I hope this goes through, because it [will have] a positive aspect [on] the youth of the Community,” said Perkins. “I don’t get the domestic violence calls, but my job is to protect the Community from those who come in from the outside who wish to do it harm by dumping and trespassing. [Working outdoors every day also is] a change of scenery.”