Michigan adds new conservation officers


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.

The new officer for Oakland County is Thomas Peterson.  “Serving the community has always been important to me,” said Peterson. “I became a conservation officer so I can serve my community and protect natural resources. I discovered a passion for natural resources early in my adolescence and I want to ensure there will be a safe, quality place for people to enjoy in the future, just as I have.”

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.

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.