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August 20, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Rangers stand ready to provide assistance

Image

Joe Schoenmann

Downtown Rangers Dave Lawson, left, and supervisor Jesse Hammond pose for a photo near the Beat coffee shop, Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013.

Armed with tiny body cameras and dispensing advice for free, members of a street-level concierge service known as Downtown Rangers are the newest additions to the Fremont East Entertainment District.

Funded by the Downtown Project, a private redevelopment agency whose partners include Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, the rangers will roam the streets from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., eventually becoming a 24/7 presence downtown, said Dave Lawson, rangers director.

Lawson said rangers would work closely with Metro Police, acting when they can as eyes and ears of the department for various incidents, but they will never become involved in handling police matters.

He said the body cameras each ranger was equipped with would help visually document incidents that may require police involvement.

Jeanne Markel, Zappos downtown team director, said 11 Street Team members have been hired and more will be hired as needed. An advertisement online a few months ago said rangers would earn $12.50/hour plus full benefits.

“Our vision is to create the most enjoyable downtown experience worldwide,” the ad says. “We do that by assisting downtown residents and tourists with directions, recommendations and overall knowledge of the downtown area.”

Rangers operate in teams of two, Lawson said, and are mostly going to be available for people who want directions and need advice about places to visit. They won’t be changing tires or getting keys out of locked cars, he added, “but they will call a tow truck if you need one.”

Rangers walking downtown today are in street clothes, but next week, Lawson said, they will be in uniforms.

The rangers are quite different from the Guardian Angels, who once roamed the same part of Fremont Street the rangers walk. In 2007, the Guardian Angels, known by their red berets, founded a new chapter in Las Vegas after being absent for 20 years.

Unarmed but trained in self-defense, the Guardian Angels were denounced in the late 1970s and early 1980s when they first sprang up on the streets of New York City.

They were welcomed here by former Mayor Oscar Goodman. Those associated with the Las Vegas chapter of the Guardian Angels could not be reached, and, by most accounts, they no longer patrol the streets of downtown Las Vegas.

To reach the rangers, call 702-900-DASH (3274). DASH stands for Downtown Assistance, Solutions & Hospitality.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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