BLM California honors Ricky Abitu with the 2022 BLM California Ranger of the Year Award

Sophie Hamann

BLM California is proud to present Ricky Abitu with the 2022 BLM California Ranger of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of law enforcement and the protection of public lands.

Ranger Abitu is BLM California’s first recipient of this award. BLM California’s Law Enforcement Leadership Team developed the award to recognize its law enforcement rangers who serve in the largest law enforcement program in the Bureau. In fact, the “Desert Ranger Force” of the BLM California Desert District has its roots in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which authorized its establishment and conveyance of law enforcement authority to carry out the BLM’s mission.

Ranger Abitu’s exemplary service upholds several of the criteria outlined in the call for nominees, which include:

• Outstanding performance in the field of law enforcement that directly enhances the protection of public lands and its visitors through proactive enforcement efforts and successful prosecution of violators.

• Demonstrating outstanding leadership and ethical qualities that garner recognition and respect from peers, subordinates, and external partners.

• Fostering outstanding working relationships with other federal, state, and local agencies and/or Tribal governments to successfully engage law enforcement personnel, non-law enforcement personnel, and/or the general public to promote public safety and the protection of public lands and resources.

• Demonstrating an unusual degree of courage, stamina, or willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

• Exceptional/heroic achievement.

A plaque with a wooden frame and golden writing on a black background.
Plaque awarded to Ranger Ricky Abitu.

The BLM California rangers, such as Ranger Abitu, cover vast areas ranging from rural landscapes to public lands intermingled within large metropolitan cities with high levels of urban interface. The work of the rangers is driven by the diverse landscape and the diverse populations and visitors they serve.

Since beginning his career with the BLM California Barstow Field Office in 2017, Ranger Abitu has proven to be quick on his feet, resourceful, and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Now stationed at the BLM California Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, Ranger Abitu remains dedicated to strengthening BLM’s relationships with other federal, state, and local agencies. In March 2022, for example, Ranger Abitu was one of the first outside agencies to respond to an ongoing and evolving situation concerning an officer shooting. After receiving a call from the U.S. Border Patrol, Ranger Abitu quickly arrived on scene and went to work setting up an incident command post. Over the span of two days, he acted as a subject matter expert on routes in and around the incident as well as the locations of popular recreational shooting areas. His knowledge and actions ultimately proved essential for the safety of all officers involved.

In addition to his regular responsibilities, Ranger Abitu goes above and beyond in his duties as a law enforcement ranger. He assists U.S. Border Patrol almost daily to track groups in steep mountainous terrain near the U.S. border with Mexico, tows vehicles from arrested subjects, provides traffic control at accident scenes, and supports special operations. Ranger Abitu also worked closely with Cal Fire on two separate fires that caused significant resource damage to BLM-managed Wilderness. His outstanding performance of law enforcement duties greatly enhances the protection of public lands and the safety of the visiting public.

BLM California is proud to have Ranger Abitu representing BLM Law Enforcement!

Four people stand side by side with an American flag behind them.
Ricky Abitu (middle right) stands with BLM California Desert District Manager
Shelly Lynch (left),BLM California Associate State Director Joe Stout (middle left),
and BLM California State Director Karen Mouritsen (right).