Review board recommends security changes at Mt. Rainier

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 20 at 5:30 PM

A National Park Service review board on Thursday offered recommendations for how security could be improved at Mt. Rainier National Park in the wake of the Jan. 1 murder of Ranger Margaret Anderson.

Anderson was shot to death after Benjamin Barnes drove through a park checkpoint near Longmire Ranger Station. Anderson had established a roadblock, and when Barnes encountered it, police said he got out of his car and fired at Anderson in her vehicle.

The review board, convened in May, concurred with the finding that Barnes was solely responsible for Anderson's death and that rangers responded properly when Barnes drove through a park checkpoint near Longmire Ranger Station.

"The courageous and decisive actions of the rangers prevented Benjamin Barnes from reaching the crowded Paradise area of the park and likely saved the lives of many park visitors and staff," said National Park Service Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz.  "We still couldn't have prevented this dangerous, disturbed and determined man from killing Ranger Anderson even if all of the recommendations that the Board has made had been in place."

The board recommended procedural changes that it said could aide rangers if a similar incident occurs again, including:

* Update park law enforcement Standard Operating Procedures including those for critical incident management, use of force, and communicating during crises
* Ensure all law enforcement patrol vehicles are properly marked according to Service standards
* Conduct training on critical incident response and critical incident stress management
* Pursue the development of Memorandums of Understanding with local cooperating law enforcement agencies

The Park Service said recommendations for additional specialized training and updates to service-wide policy were referred to National Park Service Headquarters for consideration. 

Barnes was on the run after being involved at a New Year's Eve shooting in Skyway. After shooting Anderson, Barnes fled into the wilderness. He was found dead the next day in a river near Narada Falls; he was not wearing winter gear and died of exposure.

Anderson was a 34-year-old, married mother of two children.

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