Several communities throughout Michigan are gaining new conservation officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Since graduating in December from the DNR’s 23-week Conservation Officer Recruit School #9 in Lansing, the officers have traveled the state completing their field training program and gaining diverse experience as probationary officers.
“The process for becoming a Michigan DNR conservation officer includes several phases,” said F/Lt. Jason Wicklund. “We want to ensure that our new officers are able to apply what they learned in the academy and use those skills in real-life scenarios, in addition to learning new skills from the field training officers they are partnered with.”
The new conservation officers received their permanent county assignments prior to graduating from the academy. After graduation, conservation officers must complete three phases of probationary training before they move into their permanent county assignments.
While their primary mission is to enforce fish, game and natural resource protection laws, conservation officers serve a unique role as certified peace officers with authority to enforce all of Michigan’s criminal laws. Because of their specialized training and equipment, conservation officers often are first responders to situations involving medical emergencies, missing persons and public safety threats.
The academy involved off-road training to operate specialized vehicles, such as four-wheel-drive trucks, ORVs, snowmobiles and patrol boats – everyday tools used by conservation officers to patrol Michigan’s natural resources. Recruits took several trips to specialized training locations throughout Michigan, including the Camp Grayling Training Center, the GM Proving Grounds in Milford and the Ingham County Jail, in addition to completing scenario testing at several parks.
“We are excited to have three new conservation officers in our district,” said Lt. Andrew Turner, DNR Law Enforcement Division supervisor in southern mid-Michigan. “Our area is very busy and presents unique challenges related to natural resources. Our new officers will allow us to be more responsive, provide better service and enhance protection of southern mid-Michigan's resources.”
One of the newest officers will be Eaton County officer Nathan Beelemam “I am excited to learn more about Eaton County and meet new people within the community,” said Conservation Officer Nathan Beelman. “I am from a different part of the state and I’m excited to learn about the outdoor opportunities in Eaton County and help make sure those opportunities are preserved to be enjoyed by future generations.”
Founded in 1887, the DNR Law Enforcement Division is Michigan’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency. Learn more about the work of conservation officers and explore the Recruit School #9 weekly blog posts and photos at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers