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Downtown Rangers providing security, service to Las Vegas

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The Downtown Rangers work as ambassadors in addition to providing security. (FOX5) The Downtown Rangers work as ambassadors in addition to providing security. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

As downtown Las Vegas undergoes a metamorphosis and revitalization, a new group is out to make the streets safer.

They're called the Downtown Rangers, and if you've walked the Fremont East District you've likely seen them.

Funded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's Downtown Project, the Rangers are patrolling the area day and night. They dress like police and security officers and perform some of the same duties, but they are not officers.

The Downtown Project's Christopher Curtis is the architect of the project.

In the 1980s, Curtis patrolled the streets of Las Vegas as a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police Department.

"I mean, just the level of street violence, dope dealers ripping off other dope dealers and stuff like that. It was nothing like it is now. You couldn't walk and go to the stores and go to a nice restaurant," Curtis recalled.

The Downtown Rangers are armed only with cell phones and radios to call for help as well as body-mounted cameras to document fights, crime and emergencies.

"Documenting that kind of stuff helps us better prepare for how we would deal with the situation in the future," Curtis said.

The Rangers cannot place a hand on anyone. Still, they believe they are making a significant difference downtown.

"I was born and raised here, so seeing that we get to do something to help the streets here, clean up the streets, make people's lives a little bit better, it's actually very rewarding," Downtown Ranger Kevin Lum said.

Besides looking out for crime, the Rangers are cleaning up the streets, literally.

"If the Rangers are walking down the street, they'll see something on the ground to pick up, they'll bend down and pick it up," Curtis said.

While Curtis has a background in law enforcement and security, Downtown Rangers Director David Lawson has one in customer service.

"It was a perfect fit – him with security, me with customer service. Put it together and that's the Rangers," Lawson said.

Lawson said the job is as much about being an ambassador as providing security. The Rangers will point you in the direction of the best place to eat or have a drink, depending on the mood you're in.

"I know last week we helped a lady. She didn't even know where she parked, so we went searching for her car and we finally found her car and she was just very grateful that we were there for her," Downtown Ranger Joe Troia said.

Curtis said the mere presence of the Rangers will be enough to further transform downtown and keep many of the bad elements out.

"When you have two people standing on the street that are out to do good, people who want to do bad don't want to be around those people. They want to be somewhere else in the dark, away from everything, because if there's something suspicious going on, the Rangers are going to make the phone call that they need to make," he said.

The Rangers are even working with downtown's homeless population, handing out clothes and tents. They will also help them find the resources available to them.

The Rangers are also trained as first responders and are ready in the instance of a mass casualty situation.

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