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Union representing Michigan state park workers calls for armor, weapons

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The Michigan State Employees Association filed a complaint June 29 with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration to make changes they believe would make Michigan state park workers safer and more secure.

According to a statement released by the MSEA, Michigan State Park officers are often called in to diffuse fights and riots, especially during the summer season and around holidays. The MSEA said incidents have included gang related activity, drug and alcohol abuse, disorderly conduct and a riot containing more than 300 people. 

MSEA President Ken Moore said the incidents are increasing in frequency and becoming more dangerous for park workers.

"Our state park officers are serving and protecting Michigan’s citizens with insufficient training, improper tools, lack of equipment and inadequate backup," Moore said. "What is it going to take for our officials to do something about this escalating situation which has gotten worse every year?”

State park officers are commissioned officers with the responsibilities of a peace officer, but they are not issued a weapon, soft body armor or proper communications equipment, MSEA said.

"These safety issues not only affect our state park officers, but also the patrons of our state parks," said Moore. "All patrons of Michigan state parks should be assured of their safety as they enjoy the beauty of our great state. Furthermore, we are not going to just stand by and allow our state park officers to be threatened, abused and put in dangerous situations they are not equipped to deal with.”