Arizona Rangers help law enforcement agencies in Pinal

Volunteer ranger Rick Murray shoots during a June event with the Arizona Rangers while Rangers Lt. Ron Dohrendorf looks on as a spotter and timer.

CASA GRANDE — A volunteer law enforcement organization with a rich history in Arizona seeks new members in Pinal County.

The Casa Grande Company of the Arizona Rangers assists law enforcement agencies throughout Pinal County with special projects and duties, such as crime scene control, search-and-rescue and event coverage, said Ron Dohrendorf, a lieutenant with the Casa Grande company. Arizona Rangers are volunteers working closely with law enforcement agencies statewide.

Dohrendorf said there are about 300 volunteers statewide; in Pinal County there are only seven volunteers. The reason, Dohrendorf said, is likely because of the high initial expense of becoming a volunteer.

“It does take quite an investment,” he explained. “Total cost to get started is about $2,000.”

Costs include uniforms and duty weapons, gear and training.

Rangers are not law enforcement officers and have no authority to arrest people. They are commissioned by the Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training Board in firearms tactics, however.

Dohrendorf said all Rangers applicants are required to pass both a standard background check as well as a post-conducted background check for firearms. All volunteers are required to obtain and maintain a concealed carry firearms permit.

Unlike weeks of law enforcement academy training, Rangers undergo a two-day academy known as the Arizona Ranger Training Academy. Periodic refresher training in how to properly use handcuffs, non-lethal weapons and how to deal with suspects and the public also is held.

Dohrendorf said Rangers can help alleviate some of the pressures on law enforcement agencies, allowing municipal police departments and sheriff’s offices to devote resources to preventing and solving crimes. He said the Casa Grande Company would relish an opportunity to work with more partner agencies and has sent letters to area chiefs of police by way of introduction to the organization.

“We’re not trying to pretend to be officers. We’re just here to help the community,” Dohrendorf said.

History

The Arizona Rangers have a long history, dating to the Civil War, when the organization started as the Territorial Rangers. The Territorial Rangers, modeled after the Texas Rangers, were short-lived, however, and disbanded by 1862.

The next incarnation of the organization came in 1901, lasting until 1909, when the group disbanded again. Dohrendorf said the idea behind the second bout of the Rangers was to get the territory cleaned up just prior to Arizona statehood in 1912.

Rangers had incarnations in 1931 and 1957, but they weren’t officially recognized by the state until 2002.

Arizona Rangers operate as a 501©(3) nonprofit organization and carry their own liability insurance.

Volunteering

Dohrendorf said despite the initial expense, being a volunteer ranger is rewarding, noting that many but not all volunteer rangers are former law enforcement officers or former military service members.

“A lot of us are retired, and we know if you’re younger it’s a little harder to fit into a schedule,” he said.

The Casa Grande Company meets the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Casa Grande Police Department. For more information, visit www.azrangers.us.

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