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Cops ask U.S. attorney to dismiss ‘ridiculous’ national park citations: No, she says

BWqM_WGCcAILeSGPORT ANGELES, Wash. — The Port Angeles police chief and the county sheriff asked the U.S. attorney to dismiss the $125 federal citations that a park ranger issued against a teacher and others who entered Olympic National Park during the government shutdown, with the chief saying it “borders on the ridiculous.”

But U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, in an email response to Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict, defended the park ranger who issued the tickets and said those people who were cited drove past road signs and cones that declared the park closed.

“But when they purposely decide to ignore the law (and the signs and cones), there are consequences,” Durkan wrote Tuesday. “I never like it when a trooper gives me a ticket. But I pay it. And I know it is not his fault, but mine.”

Sixth-grade teacher Kelly Sanders entered the park Monday to show it to visiting students from Japan when a park ranger issued her and other visitors $125 tickets for “violation of closure.”

Sanders said she will fight the ticket in federal court.

In his letter to Durkan on Wednesday, Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher noted that Sanders was cited in the park when she attempted to take the six international students on a very short hike there on Monday.

“My purpose in writing is to point out that, from a law enforcement perspective, the issuance of the citation was completely unnecessary and borders on the ridiculous,” Gallagher wrote.

He added, “Contesting the citation will require an appearance in federal court in Tacoma. At that point I presume the judge will try and determine what threat six international students and their escort posed to our national park. I suspect he will be as befuddled as I am and recognize this for the political farce that it is, rather than a meaningful exercise of the federal government’s police powers.”

“My hope is that you will dismiss these citations and save those that received them a trip to Tacoma … perhaps with your help the park service can regain a portion of the respect it once enjoyed,” Gallagher said.

Benedict said “to essentially issue a trespass citation to people for going to the park shows a lack of common sense and discretion.”

16 comments

  • The World is Ending

    I thought the parks were closed because there was no money to staff them…. But I do find it funny that we don't have the money to open the parks, but can have several rangers working 24 hours a day to block access to private business on leased land even if it borders a state highway.

  • Guest

    Good job to this chief. You know good and well this ranger was there to push a political agenda. She admired that she was there on her own time. Sounds to me like she had a personal interest in this case. Of course the federal prosecutor will not make king Obama look bad and dismiss it.

  • Guest

    How can a teacher who is trusted to teach children be so stupid?

    She then goes on TV to show everyone just how inept she is?

    What an idiot!!

    So teach the kids that even though the sign says "this facility is closed" it's still okay to continue if you can find a way to get around the barricade.

    Our society is full of ignorant people teaching other people that ignorance is an okay excuse to break the law.

    • Guesto

      Amen. Who cares who she was or who she was with. You break the law, you get punished. This is a much better lesson for the Japanese students to learn than showing them some trees and rocks. Stupid lady.

  • Jack

    If something happened to one of those students and they needed medical assistance or rescuing, there wouldn't have been anyone working to do so. Then what? If we liven in a country where people assumed responsibility for themselves when they went hiking then I imagine the parks would have been left open. Sadly, accidents do happen and people do sometimes need help. If the parks were open and someone got hurt, you could bet the rent that there would be a lawsuit and we would all end up paying for someone's carelessness or stupidity.

  • JohnnyDarkone

    the only idiot in this case would be the woman who decided to ignore posted signs and enter a closed area illegally. not sure what all the fuss is about. pay the fine that you were CORRECTLY given and shut the f*ck up!!

  • Aaron

    I am disappointed in this police chief. We are a nation of laws. Out of all people, a chief of police is the last person who should be going against the national park police. Does he have a point about discretion? Perhaps, but he needs to use some discretion of his own before looking down his nose in judgement at another law enforcement agency. Sorry chief, but I would never want to work for you.

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