MICHIGAN (WLUC) - Twenty-two men and women today graduated from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Recruit School, completing a rigorous, 23-week journey that challenged them every step of the way.
Family members, instructors, DNR officials and DNR Law Enforcement Division leadership attended the ceremony, held at the training academy in Lansing. Graduates received their completion certificates and badges, with family members pinning the badges on their loved ones.
The unique role of DNR conservation officers requires candidates to undergo some of the longest, most comprehensive law enforcement training in the nation. Upon graduation, these men and women achieve certification as law enforcement officers through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. The new officers will report for duty in their assigned counties and serve in a probationary capacity under the supervision of experienced conservation officers for one year, which includes more than 20 weeks of additional specialized training.
“It takes a special person to accept the responsibilities that come with protecting Michigan’s natural resources and citizens,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh, who delivered the keynote address to graduates. “These men and women endured the academic and physical demands of Recruit School because they want to serve our state. In addition to being front-line defenders of our natural resources, they play an essential role in ensuring the safety of our communities, often serving as first responders when emergencies arise. I'm proud to welcome them to the DNR.”
Gov. Rick Snyder visited the class earlier in the week to congratulate recruits on their accomplishment.
The graduating class is comprised of 16 males and six females. Three new officers are from the Upper Peninsula, 16 are from the Lower Peninsula and three are from out of state.
“The academy is about more than just building quality conservation officers,” said Gary Hagler, chief of DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “It’s also about developing quality people. When I look at the caliber of these men and women, there’s no doubt we succeeded on both counts. From today forward, these new officers will dedicate their lives to upholding the law, guarding our natural resources, protecting citizens and being good members of their communities. They’ve earned their badges and we look forward to welcoming them to our ranks.”
The new probationary conservation officers and their county assignments upon completing field training are:
Adam Beuthin (Monroe)
Joshua Boudreaux (Marquette)
Stephen Butzin (Delta)
Jeremy Cantrell (St. Joseph)
Sidney Collins (Montmorency)
Jessica Curtis (Lapeer)
James Garrett (Oscoda)
Jennifer Hanson (Gogebic)
Micah Hintze (Cass)
Nicholas Ingersoll (Monroe)
Charles Jones (Kalkaska)
Jonathan Kamps (Genesee)
Keven Luther (Wayne)
Amanda McCurdy (Leelanau)
Kyle McQueer (St. Joseph)
Zachary Painter (Gogebic)
Tyler Sabuda (Iosco)
Cody Smith (Baraga)
Katie Stawara (Shiawassee)
Justin Vinson (Luce)
Nicholas Wellman (Branch)
Danielle Zubek (Oakland)
In addition to general law enforcement training, recruits must learn skills unique to a conservation officer’s duties, such as fish and game identification. They also were trained in areas including precision driving, self-defense tactics, water safety, legal training, outdoor survival, firearms, handling child abuse and neglect cases, securing crime scenes, first aid and executing search warrants, to name a few.
The DNR currently has 209 sworn conservation officers. If all 22 graduates complete their probationary periods that total will stand at 231 officers.
The DNR Law Enforcement Division is Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency, created in 1887.
To get a feel for the challenges faced by recruits during their training view the weekly blogs that charted their progress throughout Recruit School #8.
Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace officers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.