Last year was filled with change for the Ranger organization. The Gate operations expanded their patrols on the perimeter while refining their work at the gate. The Ranger Operations and Training Department completely reorganized its management and birthed a new department. Emergency Services branched off on its own. Management of the entire department was overseen by the head of Community Services. Many meetings went late into the night, and filled weekends, as the Ranger Council, comprising representatives from all three departments, worked out the changes and tackled the hot issues facing them in 2002.
Early in the year the position of Ranger Director opened, changing the reporting structure of the department. Meetings progressed with a Director Pro Tem, the current head of Community Services. Then the Ranger Operations Department lost their manager. They chose a consensus operating group to represent the department at Council meetings. Creating LEAL, the Law Enforcement Agency Liaison branch, and separating Emergency Services, posed new challenges in reporting and handling of event incidents. Defining who got called to what scenes, and how serious situations like fence breaches from event crashers should be handled, took time and energy to work out. Radio channel allocations, use of departmental supplies and resources, and in some cases simply deciding who was allowed to do what, became large issues that had to be resolved before hitting the playa. The team needed to re-learn how to work together. They took advantage of the opportunity to create policies and procedures that work cross-departmentally.
Change equals growth. Internally the year was full of struggles that pushed some to their limits, but the commitment to the cause was unwavering. The playa saw an operation filled with committed, capable and eager Rangers, Emergency Services responders and Gate and Perimeter staff, many of whom at the end of 2002 are stepping forward into positions of leadership for 2003. There is a vitality, productivity and creativity in these groups that is infectious. New reporting structures and departmental names are just the visible outlines of the development of a tighter team of volunteers committed to the safety and well-being of all Burning Man participants.
Harley K. DuBois