San Antonio Park Police


History of the San Antonio Park Police

The San Antonio Park Police, formally the San Antonio Park Rangers, have a long and rich history of providing service to the citizens of the City of San Antonio, a tradition which we proudly continue to this day.  Officially we can trace our existence back to 1955 however, photographs exist of San Antonio Park Rangers as early as the late 1940s.  Below is a chronological account of some of the significant events in the history of our agency.  We encourage you to also visit our “History in Pictures” page.


1955 - The Park Ranger Division is created to provide patrol in city parks by then-Director Robert Frazer.

1957 - The Riverwalk Patrol section is established to patrol the San Antonio Riverwalk and adjacent areas in an effort to improve tourism-related activity on the River.

1958 - City Council, on Oct. 30th, commissions the Park Rangers as Peace Officers, and gives them authority to be armed.

October 30, 1958 - An Ordinance #27,051, Appoints Park Rangers as Peace Officers of the State of Texas within the City and Authorizes them enforce the laws.

Park Ranger Wooden Patrol Boat


1966 - San Antonio Police Captain Noah Harris is appointed as Chief Park Ranger, in command of approximately 20 officers who are combined on two shifts at the time.

1968 - The San Antonio Park Rangers, along with then Hemisfair Security Officers, play an important role in providing law enforcement and security services during “Hemisfair” the 1968 World’s Fair in downtown San Antonio.

Park Ranger Patrolmen


1972 - Mr. John Stewart is appointed as Chief Park Ranger.  Park Ranger Headquarters is located next to Koehler Pavilion in Brackenridge Park at this time.

1974 - New Park Ranger Headquarters’ building is built in Brackenridge Park.  This is what is now the Brackenridge Park Train Station and Snack Bar

1974 - 1975 - Park Rangers and Hemisfair Security are combined to make one force of Park Rangers, totaling approximately 50 officers.

Oct. 21, 1975 - An Ordinance #45868 authorizes the commissioning of Park Rangers as Texas Peace Officers under TCLEOSE and outlined Park Ranger functions and responsibilities.

1976 - Mr. William Black is appointed as Chief Park Ranger.

1976 - The first female Park Ranger, Ms. Sue Morris is hired and sworn into the ranks of the San Antonio Park Rangers.

1978 - Park Ranger Headquarters is moved from Brackenridge Park to Hemisfair Park building #336, to commence 24 hour Riverwalk and District Patrol Operations.

Park Ranger Honor Guard


1981 - The San Antonio Park Ranger Division initiates its own communications office with full time dispatchers, receiving calls and dispatching Park Ranger Patrols 24 hours per day.

1981 - Park Ranger Headquarters is moved from building 336 to its current location building number 337.

1982 - Mr. Al Booty is appointed as interim Chief Park Ranger, until such time as Retired San Antonio Police Officer Harvey Aguilar is appointed as Chief Park Ranger.

1982 - 1985 - During this time period, a significant hiring push is made doubling the manpower of the Park Ranger Division to nearly 100 Patrol Officers.

1988 - Richard Bonn, a Park Ranger Sergeant, is promoted to the position of Park Ranger Chief.

October 17, 1988 - Park Ranger Israel Rosa is shot while attempting to arrest a car thief at Martin Luther King Park.  Rosa, though permanently paralyzed from the waist down, survives the incident and after a long period of recovery and rehabilitation returns to become a Park Ranger Dispatcher, serving until 2000.

Corporal Joe Martinez and then Governor George W. Bush


1991 - The Riverwalk patrol section assumes the responsibility for flood control operations on the San Antonio Riverwalk from the San Antonio Fire Department.

1991 - The Park Ranger Field Training Officer (FTO) Program is created and initiated to train newly hired Officers more effectively.

1992 - A city-wide hiring freeze goes into effect, and by 1994, the Park Ranger Division’s manpower drops from over 100 Officers to approximately 60 Officers.

1992 - The Park Ranger Bike Patrol Unit is created and begins full time operations. 

July 1995 - Officer Ronald Cottrell is appointed by Chief Bonn as the first Park Ranger Training Academy Coordinator for the agency.  Officer Cottrell, a former Military Police Sergeant and San Antonio Police Officer, is tasked with creating the Park Ranger Training Academy.  The Academy will provide annual training for all Park Rangers.  Officer Cottrell is also responsible for the development and implementation of a Park Ranger Orientation Academy Program to better train and prepare newly hired Officers for the job of Park Ranger. 

July 31, 1994 - Park Ranger Paul M. Pytel, a nine year veteran of the agency, dies in the line of duty while chasing a shooting suspect in Martin Luther King Park.  Ranger Pytel drowned in the Salado Creek during the chase.  Ranger Pytel is the first and only member of the agency to date to lose his life in the line of duty.

September 9th, 1995 - The Park Ranger Training Academy graduates its first, one week long, Academy Class, 95-001.  The Park Ranger Training Academy develops and implements an 18 week Advanced Orientation Academy and a ten week Field Training Program mandated for all newly hired Park Rangers (Police Officers) through 2009.

Sergeant Robert Montoya


1998 - 2001 - Hiring of officers increases again, returning the Division’s manpower to 100+ Patrol Officers.

May 1st, 2001 - Richard Bonn retires as Chief Park Ranger after 27 years of City service.  Lieutenant Raymond R. Castro is made Acting Chief of the Agency.

August, 2001 - Then City Manager Terry Brechtel announces an organizational review of the Park Ranger Division operations.  As a result San Antonio Police Captain Jeffrey Page is selected to lead a handpicked organizational review team.  The review team begins on Monday, Sept. 24th, 2001 for an in depth six month review of all Park Ranger operations, rules, regulations, policies and procedures.

March 28, 2002 - The Park Ranger Organizational Review package is submitted to and approved by the City Council by a unanimous 11-0 vote.   The vote includes a name change for the Division effective immediately, to the San Antonio Park Police.

April 12, 2002 - As a result of the review the position of Park Police Corporal is discontinued, with all existing Corporals at the time promoted to Sergeant, effective the following day.

July, 2002 - The Park Police Training Academy, along with the Applicant Processing/Research & Planning Office, is moved to Bldg. #533 on the Hemisfair grounds.

Aug. 12, 2002 - Steven W. Baum, a Retired San Antonio Police Deputy Chief with 29 years of experience is selected to become the first Park “Police” Chief.  Among his first duties, he promotes Lt. Raymond Castro to be the first Park Police Captain in the organization’s history. 

September 28th, 2002 - The position of Park Police Academy Coordinator is changed as a result of the operational review by the San Antonio Police Department to a Sergeant’s position.  Officer Cottrell is promoted to Sergeant and retained the responsibility of managing the Training Academy.  Sergeant Cottrell will serve as Training Academy Commander until January of 2012.

February 1, 2009 - The San Antonio Park Police is placed under the control of the San Antonio Police Department under Chief William McManus.  Chief Baum’s title is changed from Chief to Commander, he retains operational control of the agency under Chief McManus.

Summer 2009 - Park Police Explorer Post number 9826 was established.  The post number was selected in honor of our fallen Officer Paul Pytel, 9826 was his badge number which is now retired in honor of Paul. 

Park Rangers in the snow in 1985

2010's to Present

June 4th, 2012 - Ten Park Police Cadets and 8 Airport Police Cadets were enrolled in the first joint Park Police and Airport Police Training Academy.  The joint training academy ran for thirteen weeks of intensive Police Training.  The Joint Academy graduated on September 1st, 2012 with the cadets being sworn in as Officers by Chief William McManus.

September 8, 2012 - Commander Steven W. Baum is promoted to Interim Assistant Director of the San Antonio Police Department.  Captain Raymond R. Castro assumes the operational control of the Agency under Chief William McManus and Deputy Chief Anthony Trevino.

Currently - The San Antonio Park Police has a current strength of 150 sworn Officers and five non-sworn civilian employees.  The Park Police has one Captain, two Lieutenants, sixteen Sergeants and over one hundred and thirty professional dedicated Law Enforcement Officers to serve this City.

Over the years the Park Police have added specialized units and assignments to enhance the ability of the agency to provide superior service to the community.  We now have a Riverwalk Patrol Section a District Park Patrol Section, a full time Training Academy, two Bike/ATV Patrol units, a Public/Community Relations unit, a Covert Operations unit, a Special Events Coordinator, an Illegal Dumping Investigator, an Applicant Processing/Research & Planning Officer, a full time City Hall Security Officer, and an Internal Affairs Sergeant.

Park Ranger Bike Patrol