The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards-sanctioned academy will be led by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division training section.
The academy is funded in the DNR budget through a General Fund appropriation providing 25 new positions approved by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder, nine new positions funded by the new hunting and fishing license structure, and 10 previously funded positions that are replacing officers who have recently retired or left the division.
The 44 recruits will complete a 22-week training academy that includes 14 weeks of basic police training and eight weeks of more specialized conservation officer training. There are 40 men and four women in this recruit school. Eleven of the new recruits are military veterans and two are previous law enforcement officers.
DNR conservation officers serve a distinct role in Michigan’s law enforcement community. They are certified police officers with the authority to enforce all of Michigan’s criminal laws. As conservation officers, they also have unique training in a wide variety of other areas related to the protection of Michigan’s citizens and natural resources.
Increased funding for more conservation officers was a priority for the DNR in the last two state budgets. While the addition earlier this year of 23 new officers has helped address some critical vacancies around the state, there is still a need to fill additional critical positions, said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division.
“With more officers in the field, we can have more customer contact and create a safer recreational experience in Michigan. We also have been able to provide more rural policing throughout the state,” Hagler said. “While the most recent group of new officers has provided a much-needed shot in the arm, we still have important vacancies that we must address.”
Recruitment for the next class of conservation officers is ongoing, said Lt. Andrew Turner, training supervisor for the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division.
“Men and women interested in a career as a conservation officer should start the process now by taking the Michigan Civil Service exam and completing the online job application for a future academy,” Turner said.