Opinion: State Park police in Tahoe ruin visit


By Steve Hutchison

I am writing to express our collective disappointment at the treatment we received during an encounter with a member of the State Park police on Nov. 8 at D.L. Bliss State Park at Lake Tahoe.

My wife, our Friends, their boys, (6- and 8-years -old), and our two small dogs, a 14 pound French bulldog, and a 17 pound Boston terrier, packed a small lunch and took a walk down the beach toward D.L. Bliss State Park along the low water line, as we have often done this time of year for the past 40-plus years.

After an hour or so of walking along the completely deserted shoreline, we arrived at a similarly empty beach adjacent to D.L. Bliss State Park, where my friend and I, with our dogs, stopped just past a line coincident with the park fence to wait for the kids and our wives.

The dogs were tired from the walk, (they are quite small and it’s a long boulder strewn walk), so we took them off leash so they wouldn’t tangle on the bench legs where they both promptly fell asleep in the afternoon sun. After a half hour or so, the girls and the kids arrived, at which point we broke out water and some sandwiches.

After a few minutes we observed an official looking white pickup truck arrive and stop in the parking lot with police radio on, obviously some sort of park ranger, about a 150 feet from our position.

We awoke the dogs, placed them back on leash, (as we always do in public or when any potential stimulus for the dogs is seen), and expected an inquiry regarding our presence (as I assumed the park was closed as are all the others around the lake this time of year), and expected to be greeted by a bored ranger, asked to be careful or at worse, asked to leave.

Instead, we were challenged by an angry policeman (name illegible on citation) badge No. 1513 (complete with flak vest and completely equipped police utility belt and side arm) who approached us, and in an agitated manner, informed us that there are no dogs allowed on the beach, to which I responded: “Oh, we thought the park was closed, if it’s a problem, we’ll leave back the direction we came down the beach.” (Pointing north along the deserted beach).

To which the policeman responded in an even more accusatory and combative manner: “If it were closed, you would all be trespassing and all going to jail!”

“Now I need to see everyone’s ID!”

To which we responded that none of us had any as we were out for a walk. This seemed to further incense the policeman to which he responded: “You drove here without a license?”

“No, again we walked here and are fine with just leaving.”

All of us are now also becoming quite angry with the treatment we were being subjected to, but not wanting to escalate a silly situation into something else that it was obviously headed for, we again volunteered to simply diffuse the situation and leave the abandoned beach the way we came.

Then he informed us in an even angrier tone that not only are dogs not allowed, but that they must be leashed, to which we responded: “Well they are [leashed] see?” (Holding both dogs up to chest level displaying their harnesses and leashes-they are toy breed sized).

“I don’t’ believe you! They weren’t leashed,” adding angrily, “Don’t you see the big sign? No Dogs.”

There is indeed a 3-foot-by-4-foot “No Lifeguard On Duty” sign whose main purpose (judging by the fact that 75 percent of the sign is dedicated to those words) is to inform that there is no lifeguard on duty, but includes about a half dozen smaller icons with red slashes through them indicating all the various things that are prohibited, one of which is a dog, which on shading our eyes and squinting toward the setting sun we could just make out, next to the parking lot over 100 feet away.


We acknowledged the sign, but pointed out that it was far away and obscured by the glare of the setting sun; and that there is no sign when approaching the beach from the north (where we came from). Explanations which fell on the policeman’s deaf ears. When asked if the policeman was detaining us, he confirmed that he was detaining us and to remain where we were, stating: “You all stay here while I decide what I am going to do with these dogs.”

At this point the children think:

1. We may be going to jail,

2. That this policeman may try to seize our dogs.

I commented that I found it quite sad that the park rangers I remember from my youth at the lake in the 1970s were kindly naturalists, who were friendly and helpful, who would never have dreamed of subjecting us to the DHS storm trooper kind of treatment we were receiving from this officious and bullying policeman, all of which was brought about by having two small docile dogs on an empty beach.

At this point we were insulted, angry, and upset and (although not stated) definitely not about to let this rogue policeman so much as touch our harmless and special needs dogs.

Is this really the kind of demeanor and public relations policy the parks department seeks to promote? Threatening hikers and children with jail and seizure of their beloved pets? I fear the altercation that will inevitably occur when (not if, in my opinion) this policeman takes this very aggressive and combative tone and attitude with somebody with less to lose, or who for whatever reason is not in a mood to be bullied while on vacation n front of their children, in a campground where they are on vacation by the likes of this individual.

This is all of our business as citizens, as when someone exercises authority to the point of being ludicrous, we all lose; especially when it escalates to an altercation that potentially gets physical (that in my opinion this policeman was game for in threatening arrest and seizure of our dogs), and when, in the courts a decision is made to rightly award a victim of authority run amok, we as taxpayers and citizens all pay monetarily and in further erosion of confidence in our country’s leadership.

In this instance, a simple friendly warning would have been immediately heeded and we would have gone the 100 feet it would have taken to pass the fence where the policeman assumed his jurisdiction began.

We again had two small dogs completely under control (with refuse bags attached to their leashes) and causing no disturbance whatsoever on a 100 percent deserted beach in November. We were cited (§ 4312, e and f) for dogs on state park property, and dogs off of a leash then mockingly told to have a nice day and come again.

In conclusion, we will fight this in court and share this negative experience with our friends and associates, and recommend a second thought when considering visiting a State Park.

Steve Hutchison is a resident of the Bay Area.


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Comments (59)
  1. Irish Wahini says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    I am so sorry you had such a negative experience with your dogs/friends/family on the State Beach. The Officer obviously has not had customer service training. I think your complaint would be better sent to the Department Head of the State Park with a copy to your State Representative and the State Assembly-person for the Bliss Park area.

    This is the kind of autocratic behavior that prompts voters to cut spending in areas where public employees do not act in the best interest of the taxpayer, and have no idea about how to be a public servant-advocate. This officer needs to learn how to accomplish a public service goal with customer service.

  2. Steve Kubby says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    I recommend Mr. Hutchinson file a complaint against the State Police officer in question with the El Dorado Sheriff’s Office. We are extremely fortunate to have Sheriff John D’Agostini, a man who is not afraid to strip federal and state officers of their authority to enforce the laws if they cannot perform their duties in a professional manner. After numerous complaints about the behavior of U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, our sheriff informed the federal agency that its officers will no longer be able to enforce California state law anywhere in his county.
    “I take the service that we provide to the citizens of El Dorado County and the visitors to El Dorado County very seriously, and the style and manner of service we provide,” D’Agostini said. “The U.S. Forest Service, after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.”

  3. Tahoebluewire says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Somebody call the wahmbulance for this guy.

  4. Haddi T. Uptahere says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    For forty years you have done this hike and have never seen the sign saying no dogs? Gonna have to throw the BS flag on this one.
    One of the problems I encounter all the time in Tahoe, (32 years and counting) is that there are too many people who come up here that think the rules don’t apply to THEM.
    Pay the fine and quit your bitchin’.

  5. Slapshot says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    I don’t care if the guy was violating a leash law there in no point in a public servant treating a taxpayer in this way. A simple warning to get the dogs of the beach would have been sufficient. Everyone has a bad day and I am willing to give this officer the benefit of the doubt. But I am troubled by some in law enforcement that may forget they work for the public and while I understand the mindset that these officers need to have but threatening to seize dogs is an unacceptable escalation by the officer. If he needed the officer could have issued a ticket told people to get the dogs off the beach and resolved the action in court. Simply put we are talking about people with dogs on a beach not downtown Oakland. Law enforcement has a tough job but they are under a microscope in this country and they need to be aware and constantly improve their efforts. The public has more venues and ways to bring public the actions of law enforcement which will ultimately should lead to improved policing.

  6. Justice says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Bottom line is a state park prohibits dogs on the beach and this was indicated by warnings on signs and violated and the people cited for an obvious violation, the rest of the drama is ridiculous. Though often heard, there isn’t a legal defense of “we didn’t know the law.” Also the Sheriff has no authority over this issue or over state peace officers. The agreement with the Sheriff regarding granting of state peace officer powers to federal USFS LEO’s was another matter that the Sheriff did revoke.

  7. Hmmm... says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Sounds like everybody was an idjit. I agree with Justice(gasp!/clutch heart stumble backwards flailing for a handgrip), mostly. Sounds like the cop was rude(fancy that-law enforcement, rude). I’m betting Mr. Hutchison sugar-coated his description of his behavior and sandpapered officer Illegible’s. It also sounds like you escalated the situation and knowingly violated numerous posted laws(did you bag their little-dog poops and carry em out or did you bag em and leave em on the trail for a local to deal with…or just leave em where gravity did its deal for officer friendly-and anyone else- to step in? Or do your dogs not poop?

    Look on the bright side bro-you didn’t get taser’ed, you didn’t get shot. No choke-holds were applied. Your backpack wasn’t thrown in the water. Your dogs didn’t get eaten by a coyote or carried off by an osprey.

    Bottom line….Don’t act like an entitled A-hole to the guy with the badge and the gun.

  8. TahoeMom says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Ignorance of the law is not an expectption to it. This guy fully admits they were someplace they shouldn’t have been, doing something they shouldn’t have been, he expected to be thrown out and none of the adults had ID. Im not surprised the officer was irritated, he’s a cop not a concierge.

    As for Sherriff D’ … He’s allowing his politics to influence his job. If a Republican were in the White House right now, he’d have no problem with Federal agents. He needs to focus on enforcing the law and not interpreting it. A cop that thinks he’s a Judge is a dangerous thing.

  9. skysos says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    “When asked if the policeman was detaining us, he confirmed that he was detaining us and to remain where we were”

    Big mistake. Once you said that, you basically gave him no choice. Best option in this situation is to say little or nothing and wait for his anger to subside. You might have walked away with a warning.

  10. Lovely Lois says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Whether the dog-walkers were right or wrong, the official didn’t need to go that far. Put a uniform on a man and he becomes power-hungry and his trigger finger starts itching. Get somebody reasonable in his position. After all, the walkers weren’t exactly tearing up the mountain!!

  11. Steve says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    This is what courts and judges are for, tell it to the Judge who may or may not agree a fine is warranted.

    And if you feel strongly about the ranger’s inappropriate behavior, file a complaint with the regional State Parks office under which DL Bliss SP is managed, and the Department head office in Sacramento, if the ranger has a pattern of similar unsatisfactory visitor contacts rest assured he will have some non-optional counseling at minimum.

  12. Atomic says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    After reading this account, there can be only one conclusion: the wannabe cop mishandled a simple situation. Blaming the walkers is ridiculous. A friend of mine had the EXACT same situation happen to them. Entered from the lake off of their boat with visiting friends, dog in tow. Tree cop approaches and says the EXACT same thing about going to jail if the park was closed, blah blah blah. Ended up writing them a citation.

    This is an easy one. Wild overreach. Guy needs to be disciplined/reassigned/fired. Maybe assign him somewhere a little more up his alley. Get him close to some real hardened offenders, not families out on a walk. Pathetic.

  13. Really?? says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    I’m sure state park folks are tired of telling people to remove their pets from State Park property–there are signs and we all know it’s illegal. However, nothing was served by the officer acting like a storm trooper. Law enforcement officers are trained (or should be) to DE-escalate encounters with the public. The officer’s actions give us a home grown idea of what people are in the streets protesting. Even if Hutchison was possibly being a jerk.

    I have to say that with the militarization of police forces nationwide and at every level of law enforcement, I don’t feel quite a confident in them as I once did. Seems like there are too many excuses for officers to fly off the handle and escalate a situation unnecessarily.

    This was a perfect situation for the officer to educate the group, cite them if desired and ask them to remove their dogs. The children would have benefited by learning how dogs disrupt wildlife.

  14. Rossi says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    State park police with not a lot to do..
    This is not a new story! If you are walking the beach, you are going to pass through many different tracts of land.. Private, state, etc.! Is our beachfront not all of ours to enjoy in a respective manner? Without being harassed by the authorities? Are we all responsible for the beauty of Lake Tahoe? We should never be fined for enjoying our home. His actions need to be examined.

  15. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    “I don’t care if the guy was violating a leash law there in no point in a public servant treating a taxpayer in this way.”

    Anyone who has ever had what I consider the misfortune of working as a “public servant” is aware that THE MOST rude and demeaning treatment they will ever experience will be by the “taxpayer”. Many people think that because you work for government (or more specifically “for them” as they will always tell you) that they are entitled to scream at you, insult you, and take out on you whatever it is in their own life that makes them miserable. I think that everyone should HAVE to work in government for a time period so they can get a taste of what some “taxpayers” can be like, then maybe those rude persons would be more civil when that “public servant” is trying to help them.

    I’m not saying that was the case with this person and only want to vent and share a flip side of a very unpleasant coin.

    Spouse – 4-mer-usmc

  16. dr.seltsam says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    yup, i see your point, W4mer. my experience, however, has been that ‘law enforcement’ troops have the latitude of interpretation and judgement, with those that exercise that skillset inevitably underutilized, victims of the peter principle…

  17. Lisa says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Tell us again how you have been doing this for forty plus years and didn’t know there were no dogs allowed and never had seen the sign? I sure hope you pay better attention when you drive. And did you really say that this nearly got “physical” because he “threatened” to seize your dogs. That would have been amazing attitudinal and just plain stupid. While the cop may have been rude and out of line (you should make a complaint), my attitude is if I get cited for having my dog off leash one day out on the trail, it is merely a small levy for the many time I have done it and didn’t get caught. While I don’t doubt the cop could have acted this way, somehow I think we heard just one side of the story.

  18. K9woods says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    What ever happened to just talking to each other? The officer missed a geat opportunity to educate and improve the brand of Lake Tahoe. The visitor should simply have acknowledged his mistake, informed the officer they would leave immediately and then done so. Once you engage in the argument of who knew what and why you should not be held responsible for your lack of knowledge, you encourage the escalation.

    That said, it is the public servant’s responsibility to be the grown up in the room and clearly he not only allowed but encouraged the situation’s escalation.

    Just my 2 cents.

  19. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Were they walking below the High Water point (6229 feet)?
    If so, they have every right to be there in California without any interference of the land owner.
    Today the lake level is at 6222.6 which leaves lots of room to walk without trespassing on the State Park.

  20. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    It sounds like that citizen and the park policeman got into a proverbial male dominated d**k swinging contest… each trying to demonstrate they had the biggest one. Neither are probably very likeable people.

    I tend to doubt the details of the story as told, but that being said, it is my opinion that both were in the wrong even if the citizens story had been favorably-to-him slanted, and if the policeman only did half of what was attributed to him.

    So far, there is no law that says we have to carry “papers” establishing who we are when out and about, unless engaged in an activity requiring a license like driving, hunting, fishing etc.

    I hope someone corrects me if I am wrong, but I do not believe the Forest Service law enforcement people who pack guns or the park police who pack guns get the kind of background check, training and experience that city cops or county cops or the CHP get or are required to work for a period of time with an experienced officer before getting sent out alone.

    Maybe this behavior is common with the state park police? Maybe it is a growing tendency for all our police forces to be overly aggressive?

    I Had an incident with a CA state park policeman 3 or 4 years ago, oddly enough, in the same general area. I was hiking on an access road between 89 and the lake, which had a locked gate at the top off the highway when I passed through. There was a vehicle parked nearby in an obviously unsafe manner partly on the road.

    I was hiking wearing shorts, T shirt and carrying a small day pack with water/food and a jacket, when a white pickup came up behind me lights flashing, occupied by a cop, also armed, but I don’t recall any body armor.
    I stepped to the side of the road so he could pass, still walking.
    He stopped behind me and got out, angrily ordering me to stop and keep my hands where he could see them, and started to grill me about the car badly parked up by the gate. He could not seem to get past the fact it was not my car. Did I see it? What color was it? I had seen it yes, it was a silver Toyota but I didn’t have any knowledge past that. Did I see anyone else?What was I doing here? Where did I come from? Where was I going?

    Asking the same question(s) in several different ways, all the while standing with his hand on the handle of his holstered gun. I was wondering what was going on and who I was being mistaken for and being cooperative, going far out of my way to avoid making him any angrier than he obviously was already.

    He NEVER asked my name or for any ID. After a short few minutes of this BS, I asked him if there was something going on nearby that I needed to know about. He responded, No nothing that I needed to worry about, and I could go on my way. No sorry to disturb you, or thanks for your time or any friendliness at all. He spun his truck around, and tires throwing gravel, went back the way he came from.

    Still wonder what that whole disturbing episode was about. No doubt an un-professional encounter with an off base, irritated cop and about the weirdest encounter I have had with anyone.

    The militarization of equipment and tactics of almost all of our city, county and state law enforcement is of significant concern to me. It does not say good things about an already violence prone culture, and will likely get worse as our economic situation continues to push more people into desperate situations of no jobs, shelter, food.

  21. Shadow says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    This is not the way State Park Rangers should act. In the past several years, there is a new breed of rangers. The want to be “real policeman” with their armour and attitudes. This is not to say policeman have bad attitude, but the Rangers at our parks are very aggressive. I have encounter this personally—as an ex-employee of the state parks in our area. My suggestion is to contact the headquarters at Sugar Pine and speak with the head ranger. If nothing comes of that, contact the State of CA State Parks.

  22. Kits Carson says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Not agreeing with either side but there IS a leash law in this county. It sounds like they were in the county.

  23. Kits Carson says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    It’s really sad that this whole country seems to be against Law Enforcement now. Fueled by the likes of the President, Al sharp-tongue and Jackson. They are perpetuating a division of race. After all if Sharpton couldn’t find racism and perpetuate it in EVERY incident and start flapping his gums, I think he’d be out of a job. He could go back to the white house for the 85th time and hang with the president. Funny how the president hangs out with radical racists during his life and career.
    They never uttered a word when the black cop killed an unarmed white kid in Utah. The media is also a HUGE factor….if not most of it. There has been ZERO mention of maybe the public stop and think about their own actions. Even your president has not mentioned that. Not saying LEOs don’t have their own work cut out for them but the public needs to take some responsibility. If I were an LEO I would be concerned that the president is against me….and fueling a race war.
    Just my 2 cents off the dog topic.

  24. Ronnie says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Rogue cop? Why mention the fact that he is armed? Is that to gain some sympathy? News flash- all cops are armed and “rogue” cops are what you see on TV. You make yourself out to be the sweetest bunch of people and of course the cop is the bad guy cause he ruined your day. You’re the ones who broke the law year after year after year with no consequences and now you want a warning? How about this warning- do it again and you’ll be cited again. Stop acting so entitled and so offended by a guy doing his job. You broke the law no different than a traffic violation so act like a big boy and accept it. Also, I wish your dogs had been taken because I’m sick of seeing dogs run amuck in this town. We don’t need Bay Area dog crap- we have enough of our own!

  25. Kits Carson says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Ronnie put’s it perfectly!

  26. Kits Carson says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Hmmm: This is a first! And well stated blog.

  27. KATHY says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Ronnie ,HIP HIP HOORAY ..People that dont live here think they can get away with it, NO WAY ,ITS ABOUT TIME COPS AND RANGERS AND GUARDS ,SOCK IT TO THEM, WE PAY THE PRICE .

  28. Slapshot says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    I don’t think the country is against law enforcement at all but like every industry there are some problems that need to be fixed and few public servers like to look in the mirror and admit they might need some changes. I find it interesting there is no good. public data on the number of police shootings in this country despite being required by law. I do think that the militarization of police departments is problematic if police forces are not adequately trained. I think all taxpayers are entitled to be sure their tax dollars are being properly spent There are going cops, bad cops and average cops, bad cops pull the good ones and the average ones down. There is also another lesson, do what a cop tells you and settle the difference later. I support law enforcement but also believe everyone can do better.

    Both sides were wrong here people walking there dog where they should be and a cop that escalated things by threatening to take their dog. Given a chance for a do over I would hope both would do something different.

  29. Steven says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    Was this sent to, or published elsewhere and reprinted here ? Just wondering why it took over a month for Hutchison to speak up.
    And I’m wondering if no one had an I.D., how did they get a citation ?

  30. admin says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    This was sent to LTN. We don’t know if it was sent elsewhere. We don’t publish opinion pieces, including letters, without confirming the writer actually wrote it. This took some time in this case.

    LTN staff

  31. copper says - Posted: December 14, 2014

    When I started in law enforcement 46 years ago the agency by whom I was hired was unique in that it required at least two years of college to be accepted. While I only had 2 1/2 years, close to 60% of the entry level hires had college degrees.

    Then the radicalism of the late ’60s hit; we were all on the firing line, wearing gas masks and throwing tear gas, and had no difficulty justifying our actions. But the local sheriff’s department ran the show, the county sheriff being the “senior law enforcement official” in his jurisdiction. The sheriff deputies fired shotguns at the crowds, fortunately only killing a few, and ignoring the fact that we were in their line of fire And their squads went on to vandalizing homes that portrayed support for the rioting demonstrators. I first learned what a “wrist rocket” was from a sheriff’s deputy who was using it to break the windows of citizens.

    Along with the majority of my fellow educated, or “semi-educated” cops, I moved on to another PD, largely in disgust at my experience. But working with lateral transfers from other agencies, I came to realize that there is a huge – even astronomical – difference between the philosophies of various agencies, and the folks they’re likely to hire. And I sat on hiring panels, interviewing auto mechanics who showed up for their interviews in their work shirts, security officers who based their view of law enforcement on how they thought shoplifters ought to be treated, and, from time to time, folks who wanted to serve and protect their communities through fair and and unbiased law enforcement. And, oh yeah, the occasional LAPD or SFPD lieutenant who believed (wink – wink) that my agency needed them doing grunt work – until, of course, the day a few months later when their specialness was recognized, and they would be promoted to running the show. When, through some error of communications, that last group was mistakenly hired, they rarely lasted more than a few months before they realized they were expected to perform to a standard, and their bosses realized that their standard was enhancing their own retirements.

    I could go on for some time about the lessons I learned from this experience, and others should as well. But it’s all easily summarized – demand that your politicians hire the best educated and the most law enforcement knowledgeable (both philosophically and through education) folks who present themselves, largely in response to the standards of the community and the compensation they will receive. And, having hired those folks, allow them and enable them to hire folks of like quality.

    I have little knowledge of the current South Lake Tahoe Police Department, but I know that for years you folks had the most professional police agency on either side of the state line. I know that other agencies in the area have improved spectacularly since I was paying attention, but, if you live in South Lake Tahoe, you need to be certain that your law enforcement agency is maintaining the standards you should expect.

    Did I happen to mention that hiring the best also means compensating them as though they are the best? Or would you prefer that they just be semi-best?

  32. Perry R. Obray says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    No I.D., I guess no smartphone to record the incident. I remember a private party incident at Heavenly Village last summer on the public sidewalk. Apparently multiple people used smartphones to record the rapidly escalating incident. Maybe both parties knowing it was all recorded on video calmed some hot heads into deescalation. Did the cop have a body mounted camera? Cop body cameras supposedly calm down rogue cops.

  33. Buck says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    Rangers do no need guns or body armor. They only need communication skills. Barney Fife #1513 needs to go back to basic camp for an attitude adjustment.

  34. Dogula says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    Buck, you’re right. I did 4 years as a seasonal ranger, April thru October. One year we all got to go to a state-wide seminar for parks called ‘verbal judo’. Basically practicing how to talk people into doing what you want them to do, and letting them think it’s their own idea. Instruction and role playing.
    Our park won the competition!

  35. Hmmm... says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    @Buck-Body armor, no. Sidearm, yes. Communication skills training, yes. Body camera, yes. I don’t want to be insulting, but this is not Mayberry in 1950-something.

    @Dog-how long ago was that? Not trying to minimize or belittle your experience or training(i think both are a good thing). It seems though that more and more people are using the basin for both legitimate and illegal activity, AND it seems some people are getting edgier and nastier.

  36. Dogula says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    Hmmmm, you’re right, it was over 20 years ago. But even in the Forest Service, some rangers carry, but most don’t. For a ranger to carry,they’ve got to have had full police training. I took PC832 in addition to the other training, but that didn’t allow me to carry at work. Different agencies have different requirements but to carry a gun as part of your work is serious. You ought to be highly qualified.

  37. copper says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    A couple of years ago I was asked for some help in a cold criminal case that I’d been involved in almost 40 years ago. Helping out involved refreshing my memory of the crime scene, and that involved going for a stroll up, down and around an almost 1000 acre Forest Service parcel. While deep in the woods, dressed exactly like an elderly hiker, which I was and am, but carrying a weapon concealed (legally, by the way) because the area has become known for its illegal camping and just because I’ve gotten old doesn’t mean I’ve gotten dumb, I ran across a law-enforcement Forest Service ranger, in uniform, by himself (with, as I learned, backup about 20 miles away) looking for illegal campers to evict.

    I was amazed that he was by himself. As a uniformed (thus identifiable) cop I would never have simply disappeared into the woods without at least a back-up nearby and knowing exactly where I was. But I gather that lone patrol like that is commonplace among the law-enforcement rangers.

    We chatted and I explained what I was up to. He decided that what I was doing was more interesting than what he was doing, so he not only helped out, he gave me his phone number and joined me in several later off trail strolls through the woods. During which we also found some illegal campers which were sent on their way.

  38. Kits Carson says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    Funny, no response from the whining entitlement bay area. Maybe he got the message.

    BTW: Special needs dogs, beloved PETS. You left out Service dogs and Therapy (feel good) dogs. Which one are they? AND if they/you were legit why didn’t you mention that to the Officer? No matter what kind of title your friends are now telling you to put on them, they still need to be leashed. Man up, stop whining, and just pay the ticket you are guilty of. You are not going to win in court.

  39. Lodge Pole says - Posted: December 15, 2014

    Looks to me this guy fully admitted, and in detail on a public blog that he was in violation of the leash law continually for years. If he thinks he was ‘bullied’ then he can file a complaint with the State Parks. But as far as fighting this in court, he has little to zero chance of winning.
    No Judge wants the courts time wasted on such matters especially when blatantly guilty and this seems to more than qualify.
    I have to agree (Mr. Bay area) with the others. Just man up and have a lesson learned.

  40. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: December 19, 2014

    Some of you really hit the nail on the head here. I’m on the officer’s side of this for many reason, only a few of which are outlined below. I am pro-law enforcement and pro-dogs, I make no illusions about that. That being said…

    1) This article should really be titled “Entitled Bay Area man admittedly breaks law, gets caught, throws tantrum.” The BS the author kept spewing was obvious, even if there are bits of fact sprinkled into his story.

    2) Those of you backing the author on this story, keep in mind: he of course painted this story to make the cop seem like a world class Nazi jerk, and himself an innocent, sweet, cooperative “victim”. I bet the officer involved would have a MUCH different accounting of the author’s attitude, and facts of the case.

    3) No where in CA on CA State Park Property are dogs allowed off-leash, IF they’re allowed at all. That is STATE LAW. Dogs are not allowed on any State Park beach, also STATE LAW. DL Bliss allows dogs on leash in: campsites and paved areas. It’s obviously signed.

    FYI, most counties have leash laws as well. So even if there was no State Parks leash law, there IS one for El Dorado county (where DL Bliss is located), which the author was in violation of. The officer could have cited the author for the county ordinance violation as well as the State Park violation, but didn’t. Loose (i.e. unleashed) animals CAN be taken into custody by State Park Peace Officers, and the cop didn’t do that either. Sounds to me like the author got a big break overall.

    4) The author freely admits to having his dogs off leash on State Park property, specifically on the beach. All of DL Bliss is very well signed that dogs are not allowed off-leash anywhere, ESPECIALLY on the beach. I know because I visit DL Bliss regularly. I’ve seen, and had, dog encounters with State Park Peace Officers. They DO use discretion all the time on who gets a ticket and who doesn’t. But if you’re on a signed beach in front of a sign that says you can’t have your dog there, you’re out of excuses in my book, and deserve what you get. If you throw attitude, you deserve what you get. If you’ve been there many times over the course of many years, you should know the rules without excuse. As the old saying goes “It’s almost impossible to talk your way out of a ticket, but very easy to talk yourself into one.” I think that probably applies here.

    In my opinion, having your dog off-leash in public is not just illegal in MANY areas (not my opinion), it’s irresponsible as a dog owner, regardless of dog breed, size, etc. No dog is as well-behaved or predictable as the dog’s owner thinks or says out loud. I’ve been bitten by off-leash dogs 4 times as an adult. EVERY time, the dog’s owner said “He’s friendly” or “He listens to me.” It makes no difference that the author didn’t see anyone else. The leash laws are in place to protect more than just other people; they are there to protect park wildlife, park resources, other animals, etc. If you want to have your dog off leash, go somewhere that allows such activity. Problem avoided / solved. The worst offenders are people who openly identify themselves as Tahoe locals, and people who “regularly” visit the Tahoe area. I do live up here year-round, and don’t identify myself as a local, because in my experience the self-described “locals” up here are some of the most entitled jerks I’ve ever encountered in my adult life. Self-described “taxpayers” are on par with self-described “locals”, in my opinion.

    5) The County Sheriff has no authority to strip a State police officer of his/her powers (not the case with US Forest Service, which is a federal agency). And by the way, California State Park Peace Officers (aka “Park Rangers”) ARE fully sworn police officers with statewide authority (not just limited to the park boundaries, FYI). That’s why they carry a gun (or multiple guns), and everything else a city police officer or county sheriff has on them. In Tahoe especially, State Park Peace Officers are one of the primary law enforcement agencies, along with county Sheriffs and CHP. They are not “wanna-be cops”, they ARE cops. They go through the same rigorous background checks and academy training standards as every other sworn police officer in California. Get your facts right.

    6) Flak vests are what bomber crews and fighter pilots used during WW2. Police wear “bullet-resistant” vests. In this day and age, if you’re a cop and have an issued vest that you choose not to wear, you have a death wish (my humble opinion only).

    7) Leash laws still apply to service dogs and therapy dogs. Therapy dogs have NO protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (look it up if you don’t believe me), and therefore get no special consideration.

    8) State Park “property” typically extends 1000 feet out past the water line (at least in Tahoe), so that “high water – low water mark” argument is invalid.

    9) If the park was actually closed, then the author and his party were, by definition, trespassing. Last time I heard, you can get arrested for that. The officer was absolutely correct in that statement, if he actually said that at all.

    10) It is correct in that you don’t HAVE to carry ID with you while walking around. Is it a good idea? Yes. That being said, if you cannot be positively identified AND break the law, you CAN be detained (including handcuffs, transported to jail, fingerprinted etc.) until your identity can be confirmed. That’s allowed under CA state law.

    11) Laws don’t stop applying because there was “no else there”. If you come to a 4-way stop and you’re the only car there, do you still have to stop? Legally, of course you do. Do you still have to drive the speed limit just because you’re on a stretch of road where you don’t see any cops? Legally, of course you do.

    12) If the officer saw your dog off leash, but didn’t contact you until the dog was on leash, he can still write you a ticket. Correcting a violation after you committed the violation doesn’t matter if the officer saw the violation to begin with. He can still cite you for it.

    13) Warnings (statistically) almost never work. Ask any cop. There were signs that you ignored (and have for years, by admission). That was your warning, and you disregarded it. Deal with the consequences.

    14) If you obey the law and don’t give a cop a reason to talk to you, chances are good they won’t. Unfortunately, most law enforcement agencies are too understaffed, underpaid and overworked to waste time on the people who are behaving themselves. I would bet my next paycheck, most cops wish they could take time out of their shifts just to spend a few minutes having a friendly chat with a law-abiding citizen. That’s not the reality they work in, however.

    15) This is not the 1970s. You wouldn’t want to encounter a “rude” cop from the 1970s, because he probably would have broken your face in and you wouldn’t even have had a means to complain about him. If you think there is no accountability with cops today, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    16) Cops are public servants. And the public they serve (generally) hate them until they need them. Cops everywhere in this country are underappreciated. Park “Rangers” often work solo, but deal with everything that any other law enforcement officer deals with (including rape, murder, warrant service, drugs, weapons, etc.). Backup can be a long way off!

    I could keep going on this, but I think I’ve made my point here. Obey the law, don’t be a jerk, and you should be just fine. If you did something stupid and got caught, grow a pair, be a man, take care of your punishment and don’t do it again.

  41. tahoeanhiker says - Posted: December 19, 2014

    Pay the fine and clam up. This guy was doing his JOB. Basically a police officer in the trees.
    Not only that, he is the only one trying to keep the dang dog poop out of the parks and beaches !

  42. Buck says - Posted: December 23, 2014

    Ignoranceis: State parks are open even if you can not park in their lot. You can walk in and enjoy the beaches of Lake Tahoe. You are not trespassing, E Bay, DL Bliss ect. Enjoy!!!

  43. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: December 23, 2014


    I never said the parks were closed. I am fully aware that they are open year round for foot traffic (just not vehicles). I said that IF the parks were ACTUALLY closed when the officer contacted the officer, then the author WOULD be, by definition, trespassing. My only point there was that the author (with all of his claimed “experience” in the area) doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about.

  44. rock4tahoe says - Posted: December 23, 2014

    I, me, mine, blah, blah, and my dogs. Want some cheese with that whine? Yes, there is a leash law on the books for the entire county of El Dorado.

    Sec. 9.46.600. “Where not prohibited, dogs and other domestic animals must be fastened to and restrained by a chain or leash not longer than six feet and must be under the direct and immediate control of a responsible person.”

  45. tahoebluewire says - Posted: December 24, 2014

    I felt compelled to comment again. To Stevo the letter writer; law enforcement are not your friends. They are not part of a ‘resort’ and are not there to deliver ‘customer service’, they are there to enforce the laws. You were knowingly breaking a law. The more I read your comments, the more you sound like a spoiled entitled Californian. My spouse is an ER nurse and you know what? People like you Stevo have driven her profession from one of saving lives to one where the ER staff is judged on how well they provide ‘customer service’. I am so sick of people crying about every little thing. Grow some balls dude and move on.

  46. skysos says - Posted: December 26, 2014

    Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says:

    “Dogs are not allowed on any State Park beach, also STATE LAW.”

    This is absolutely not true. We camped at Wrights Beach in the Sonoma Coast SP last summer and they are allowed on the beach there, and at other specific beaches in the park. They are not allowed on beaches that are sensitive “Snowy Plover” habitat, but other than that it’s allowed. Each park has specific rules about where dogs are and aren’t allowed, and we read those carefully before taking our dogs there. We don’t go if dogs are not allowed.

  47. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: December 26, 2014


    Title 14 Division 3 of the California Code of Regulations is the body of law that governs State Park specific regulations. Section 4312(f)(2) reads “No person shall bring a dog into, permit a dog to enter or remain, or possess a dog on any beach adjacent to any body of water in any unit except in portions of units designated for dogs.” Your blanket statement of “They are not allowed on beaches that are sensitive “Snowy Plover” habitat, but other than that it’s allowed” is incorrect. Sonoma Coast State Park (of which Wright’s Beach is a part of) specifically prohibits dogs on beaches, see the links below if you don’t believe me. Dogs ARE ALLOWED in the campground, on leash. – right side of screen under “Use Restrictions”

    My gut tells me that you more likely experienced a historic lack of enforcement. Basically what that means is because it hasn’t been an enforcement priority for a long time, perhaps the Rangers there turn a blind eye to it? “Historic lack of enforcement” does NOT equal “legal”. Maybe there is an internal directive at that park among the employees about not enforcing dogs on beaches, I don’t know though. You’d probably want to check with the Rangers at that park about it (not maintenance or seasonal staff or an office staffer). All the published literature on the official park website says that dogs aren’t allowed on state beaches, which is consistent with written law. I think you’re rolling the dice by having your dog on a State Beach, personally. At any point, a Ranger could come by and legally write you a ticket for it. I’ve heard rumors that Sonoma is not very dog-friendly, but again, I haven’t spent much time up there.

    Also keep in mind, a lot of park properties throughout the state are run by concessions. They are basically outside, contracted companies that run a park (or portion of a park) for the CA State Parks. I don’t know if Wright’s Beach is one of these or not. I do know from personal experience that the rules that get enforced in a concession-run park can be much different than the rules enforced by a State Parks-run park. I think it’s silly and confusing personally, but that is reality. Often times, concessions contract with the local PD or Sheriff’s Dept. for law enforcement in their area, and most PDs or Sheriffs’ Depts. have more critical things to enforce than dogs on beaches.

    If you get something in writing by a Ranger or Ranger Supervisor that says you can have your dog on Wright’s Beach (or any beach in that park for that matter), then I say go for it. Until then, I’d be really careful if I were you. If you do go so far as to contact the park about it, and they tell you different than what is published on their website, I would let them know that their literature contradicts what they told you.

  48. pine tree says - Posted: December 30, 2014

    I agree with K9…especially with children present. The children would learn to have more respect for law enforcement if they were educated instead of threatening their small pets. If these people truely feel the way they feel, and there truely is not a sign posted from where they entered the park then I’d photograph that area and fight the ticket anyways.

  49. skysos says - Posted: December 31, 2014

    Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says: “My gut tells me that you more likely experienced a historic lack of enforcement.”

    Sorry, wrong again. Please read this, which I quote part of here:

    “The following are designated areas where dogs are permitted on beaches adjacent to bodies of water in State Park Systems or portions of units:

    Marshall Gulch
    Carmet Beach
    Schoolhouse Beach
    Portuguese Beach
    Duncan’s Cove
    Wright’s Beach
    Furlong Gulch
    Shell Beach
    Blind Beach
    Russian Gulch”

    I have had conversations with (friendly) park rangers there, on the beach, with my 2 dogs. I will continue to go to beaches where dogs are allowed, of which there are many. In addition to state parks allowing them, state beaches do too — notably Thornton State Beach in Daly City where it’s a veritable dog run on weekends. I don’t need to go to places where there is a simple lack of enforcement with these legal options available.

  50. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: December 31, 2014


    I wouldn’t be too confident in quoting a 12-13 year old posted order. Laws change ALL THE TIME. Look at the CA penal code or vehicle code just in the last few years and you’ll see my point. State law requires that State Park posted orders get reviewed and renewed annually to have any legal standing. And they have to be consistent with state law to begin with, which this one is not.

    Fun fact for you: State Park District supervisors don’t have legal authority to circumvent state law. The authority to change law is granted to the CA State legislature. That’s not to say that State Park District Supervisors don’t write fancy things up from to time, but in this case, even if that website had a posted order with valid and current dates on it, legally it has NO standing whatsoever. Whoever the Russian River District supervisor is, they should have known better before they issued this posted order.

    You can continue to believe what you want, take your dog where you want, and not do your research as I have. You will have to deal with the consequences if you get caught, as the author did. Don’t complain when you misinterpret or misunderstand a regulation, and get a ticket or arrested for it. That’s on you.

  51. Missy says - Posted: January 1, 2015

    As a member of this community and law enforcement, I apologize for your experience!!!!!

  52. skysos says - Posted: January 2, 2015

    Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse,

    Don’t presume incorrectly that I do not do research before taking my dogs to the beach legally. The first thing I do when showing up at a park is ask the ranger at the gate what the dog policy is. This is the best, most direct research you can do. You can whine and complain all you want about how they are not enforcing California law, but the reality is that it is allowed and even encouraged at many locations by the local authorities.

  53. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: January 3, 2015


    Let me be clear here. I’m not whining or complaining. The author of this article did all of that. I’m simply stating what is and isn’t fact, under the law. If your personal experience differs, so be it. If you found a State Park beach that tolerates or “allows” dogs, on or off leash, good for you. I say enjoy it. I personally couldn’t care less where you take your dog.

    Furthermore, I completely agree that the best “research” is to ask a Ranger at the park you are visiting regarding the dog “policy”. When I say Ranger, I mean Ranger, the men and women walking around in State Parks uniforms with badges on their chests and guns on their hips. They are the ONLY Rangers. Anyone else in a State Parks uniform is NOT a Ranger, and shouldn’t be confused as one (which is easy to do, since the uniforms can be VERY similar in appearance). From experience, I can say that seasonal park staff and maintenance staff have a tendency not to know what the rules actually are, as it’s not their job to enforce the rules.

    To satisfy my own curiosity, I am awaiting a call back from Sonoma Coast State Park about this very topic, as the website has inconsistent information on it.

  54. rock4tahoe says - Posted: January 3, 2015

    What about the people that DON’T want dogs on the beaches… like say Californian’s that want to have some peace and quiet on a State Park without said dogs. Well, dogs rule and people drool… and apparently whine about their dogs.

  55. Dogula says - Posted: January 3, 2015

    @ Ignorance.. . .Not all park rangers have police powers. Depends on the park, depends on the agency that controls it. There are also uniformed employees who are called ‘park aids’ and that’s most of what you see during the summer. They are seasonal.

  56. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: January 3, 2015


    I don’t think I said “all park rangers have police powers”, anywhere on this comments page. All my comments have been specific to the CA State Park system, which I am familiar with. In CA State Parks, anyone who is ACTUALLY a “Ranger” IS a fully sworn police officer, having statewide law enforcement authority (like CHP or Fish and Wildlife). Anyone else working for CA State Parks and wearing the CA State Parks uniform, has a different job title. The ACTUAL, formal title of these sworn CA State Park law enforcement employees is State Park Peace Officer – Ranger/Lifeguard. The term “Ranger” is an antiquated term, in my opinion, and often leads to confusion with the public.

    You are absolutely correct that it varies from agency to agency as to which employees get the title “Ranger”, and whether or not those same employees have police powers. National Parks, for example, have “Rangers” whose sole purpose is law enforcement. There are other “Rangers” in Nat. Parks whose sole function is interpretation and education. I am well aware of this distinction among agencies.

    Lastly, your statement about seasonal park aides is correct, and was my whole point to skysos about uniformed CA State Park employees who are not Rangers with law enforcement powers…i.e. park aides (seasonal employees, as I stated) and maintenance employees. I worked as a CA State Parks seasonal park aide several years ago for a few summers, and know this well. As I said in my comment to skysos, part of the confusion comes from the likeness in the uniforms. Many people think that anyone they talk to in a CA State Parks uniform IS a “Ranger”, which is simply not true. Even volunteers in CA State Parks can be mistaken for “Rangers” because they wear similar attire. My intent was to clarify that distinction.

  57. cosa pescado says - Posted: January 3, 2015


    I don’t think I said “all park rangers have police powers”, anywhere on this comments page’

    I see you have met dawg. She does that all the time, misrepresenting peoples ideas is her MO. She knows that she does this, has been told it is intellectually dishonest and rude, and doesn’t listen. No one here takes her seriously.

  58. Ignoranceis N. Oexcuse says - Posted: January 3, 2015

    @ cosa,

    Good to know, thanks for that :-)

  59. Dogula says - Posted: January 3, 2015

    Ignorance, be careful of chumming up with the fish too much. If you ever disagree with him, he’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. Mean as a snake.
    Fish is a legend in his own mind.