Law Enforcement

Black Rock City and the roads leading to and from the event are patrolled by the following agencies:

  • Pershing County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO)
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO)
  • Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP)
  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Police Department (PLPT)
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

It is not the stated mission of these agencies to police your lifestyle or inhibit self-expression. They serve the same functions as the police in any city – to protect public safety and respond to any violation of the law that is brought to their attention or is in plain view.

We Want Your Feedback About Law Enforcement

Did you have any interaction with law enforcement at Burning Man? Was it a positive experience? Was it a negative experience? Do you feel that you were harassed or illegally searched? Whether you were cited or not, we want your feedback so that we can further improve relations between law enforcement and our participants.

Please fill out our online Law Enforcement Feedback form as soon as possible after your interaction, so you can record all the details while they’re still fresh in your mind. You may also download a PDF of the form and return it to us. Thank you for your help!

Please note: Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers are participants serving as non-confrontational community mediators. They are not law enforcement officers.

New for 2019

As volunteers, Black Rock Rangers do not typically engage physically with participants. Instead, Rangers rely on tools like education, negotiation, and an appeal to the 10 Principles to resolve conflict. Each year, there are a few situations involving participants behaving aggressively that are beyond the scope of Ranger responsibilities but don’t rise to the level of requiring law enforcement intervention, or might benefit from proactively deploying a team than can act in the event that a situation escalates.

For the 2019 event, Burning Man Project has contracted with High Rock Security to provide a very small team (no more than four people at a time) in Black Rock City that will provide support and assistance to Black Rock Rangers. We believe that having this third option for a small number of unique cases will benefit Rangers, participants, and law enforcement.

The High Rock team will not be proactively patrolling the city, and will only engage when dispatched by Ranger leadership. They will not be armed and will escalate any serious issues immediately to law enforcement as needed. They will be wearing black “High Rock Security” shirts, clearly distinguishable from Rangers and law enforcement.

You may know High Rock Security from their work at a number of official Burning Man Project events (like San Francisco Decompression and the Artumnal Gathering) and events adjacent to Burning Man (e.g., Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis). They work alongside Rangers at some of these gatherings and approach security in a manner inspired by Black Rock Rangers, preferring de-escalation techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is this the “private security” that BLM discusses as a potential mitigation in the Environmental Impact Statement?

No. This is completely unrelated to BLM’s Environmental Impact Study or to any requirements from BLM. Our collaboration with High Rock Security is not the security force proposed by BLM to search for contraband at the Gate. High Rock will not be searching vehicles at the Gate.

Why is this happening?

Black Rock City staff have dealt with a small number of issues over the years where individuals displayed physically aggressive behavior, demonstrated the potential to harm themselves or others, or otherwise continued to behave badly when asked by Rangers or other Burning Man staff to stop. While we rely on law enforcement for support when things get out of hand, there are cases where it would be helpful to have a team under our management that can monitor a situation before it rises to law enforcement action, so as to ensure safety if things escalate until law enforcement arrives.

What is private security’s intended role at the event?

To assist our Black Rock Rangers and Black Rock City staff in situations that might need a higher level of de-escalation or intervention that volunteer Rangers are not prepared to provide, but don’t rise to the level of requiring law enforcement involvement.

Does this mean more or less law enforcement at the event?

Neither. High Rock Security is not tasked with enforcing the law and therefore does not remove the need for law enforcement in BRC. They are here to serve Black Rock City needs and to support our volunteer Black Rock Rangers.

Will High Rock staff be armed? Will they carry guns? Tasers? Batons? Pepper spray?

No. High Rock staff will not be armed with any weapons.

What will they be wearing? How will we know who they are?

They will be wearing black “High Rock Security” shirts, clearly distinguishable from Rangers and law enforcement. Due to the very small size of the team and the specific nature of their work, the vast majority of participants will not interact with, or even notice, the High Rock team in Black Rock City.

What is High Rock Security’s history?

High Rock Security was founded in 2002 by members of Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers and Gate teams to provide a non-aggressive style of security to events. Their clients include San Francisco Decompression, Burning Man regional events, Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis, and Joshua Tree Music Festival. Much of High Rock Security’s staff consists of people who have been Burning Man Project staff and volunteers, previously involved with Black Rock Rangers, Gate, DPW, Cafe, and other departments.

How will High Rock Security interact with Black Rock Rangers?

High Rock staff will work alongside Rangers and under the direction of Ranger management. High Rock staff will be dispatched by the Black Rock Rangers as an additional resource when appropriate.

Will High Rock Security patrol BRC?

The plan is for High Rock to respond as needed when called upon by Black Rock Rangers to assist.  They will typically be accompanied by Rangers.

How many of them will there be?

There will be between two and four agents on duty at a time.

If you can use private security, why have BLM or Pershing County law enforcement patrolling the event? Why not do what EDC, Coachella and Bonnaroo do—use private security and call in law enforcement only when needed?

Black Rock City takes place on public land and has more than 70,000 participants, so law enforcement isn’t optional. Additionally, we’re talking about a very small private security force that wouldn’t be able to take on all of the functions of law enforcement in BRC.

How was High Rock Security selected as the security vendor for BRC?

The selection process took about four years and was managed by Burning Man’s Law Enforcement Advisor, the Ranger Department Manager, and the Ranger Deputy Department Manager.  Several companies submitted proposals, and High Rock wasn’t a contender until they got a license in Nevada in 2018. They were selected based on a number of factors, including flexibility in working with us on a very small scale, and a unique cultural fit for Black Rock City.