Rangers will now be using unmarked vehicles to patrol the Natchez Trace Parkway.

After a six month pilot program showed a dramatic increase in the number of traffic stops for distracted and aggressive driving, the decision was made to order additional unmarked units. The order includes both typical and non-typical law enforcement vehicles such as full size SUVs and pickup trucks.

“They are not all white in color either,” said Chief Ranger Sarah Davis. “Some of the vehicles might be black, silver, blue, red, or even green. We are not trying to be tricky, we just want to make sure drivers are not on their phones and they are driving the speed limit.”

For anyone with concerns about so called blue-light bandits, or people pretending to be police officers, don’t worry. These vehicles will blend into day to day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated. “You will definitely know it’s a law enforcement officer,” said District Ranger and vehicle coordinator John Hearne. “These vehicles will have multiple flashing red and blue lights, headlights and grill lights; it will look like a police Christmas tree when they light up.”

Since the Parkway travels through three states, law enforcement ranger vehicles use both red and blue lights instead of just blue lights which are standard in Mississippi. Rangers use both colors because red lights are easier to see in the daylight and blue at night. Safety is the number one priority on the Parkway and the multi colored lights make it safer for both the Ranger and drivers.

  1. Steve says:

    Why has the Park Service become so militarized in recent years/decades? I remember when a Park Ranger was tantamount to just being a professional outdoorsman. Now, it seems to be all about having armed confrontations with people.

    But, the bigger questions to me is, “why is the Federal Government still in business of owning major land holdings throughout the country? I answer my own question with the theory that the Federal Park Service is nothing more than a jobs program and holdover from the 1930s depression era. If we’re going to have a jobs program then turn over these lands to the State. Even with our bad reputation for roads, I’m confident that the state would at least find a way to provide the money to add shoulder lanes to the trace, something that has likely caused more deaths on the trace than anything else. The State of Mississippi at least increased the speed limit on the highways over the years in response to the people of the state. Who does the Park Service answer to? People in DC who are tone-deaf to the citizens of Mississippi.

    • Lance says:

      The Natchez Trace Parkway is one of 4 scenic parkways in the US. It’s pavement is not as wide as most two lane paved highways. It has a narrow un-paved shoulder and the trees are close to the road way in many places. The integrity and designated purpose of the NTP would be taken away if it were widened and made to look like a state hi way. It was designed and meant to be a scenic road. For these and other reasons the speed limit is 50 MPH. If you want the fastest route to Ridgeland or Tupelo the NTP isn’t the road for you. The Rangers have changed, that much is true. It’s because they’ve had to. The public and society have changed so the rangers have changed too. They are very well armed and trained with side arms and collapsible stock rifles with hi capacity magazines. Their work on the NTP is often very isolated and back up is not usually close by. I believe the NTP is a treasure and an asset to our state and hopefully will continue to be.

  2. NL says:

    I assume the people who are opposed to this are the ones who want to speed. The Natchez Trace is a parkway not a highway. I use the Trace often, and I am pleased to hear of this extra presence. Think of all the people who have been killed, including Dr. Holdiness.

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