Crime in Federal Recreation Areas:

A Serious Problem Needing Congressional and Agency Attention

GGD-77-28: Published: Jun 21, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 1977.

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To determine how federal agencies were protecting visitors to federal recreation areas, a review was made of the agencies' law enforcement programs. In addition, questionnaires were sent to 1,637 employees of 174 of the most frequently visited national forests, packs, historical sites, etc. Observations of the implementation of the law enforcement programs were carried out at 24 recreation areas.

Limited statutory authority, lack of applicable federal criminal statutes, and weakness in law enforcement hamper protection of the public. Federal laws protecting visitors and their property do not apply at many recreation areas, even though federal law enforcement personnel may be present. Existing law enforcement programs can be improved in such areas as training of personnel, crime reporting systems, and cooperative agreements with local police agencies. Standards and controls must be established over nonfederal police agencies hired to provide law enforcement.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The heads of six Federal agencies should: develop a protection program that would define acceptable levels of law enforcement service to be given to visitors; establish guidelines and standards for all agencies to follow; establish a crime reporting system; promote competent recruiting, training, and equipping of all rangers; and establish guidelines for contracting with State and local police for law enforcement services. Congress should pass legislation to untangle the legal and policy problems of law enforcement on visitor-oriented Federal lands.


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