Department of Natural Resources
Recruit School #9 began wearing duty belts as part of their uniform during week seven of the Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Training Academy. The duty belt is an essential part of a conservation officer’s uniform – adding 15-20 pounds of equipment. Incorporating the duty belt now will enhance a recruit’s ability to dress and respond promptly to situations as a conservation officer.
Monday morning the recruits learned about warrantless search laws and laws on search warrants with David Greydanus, retired Michigan State Police inspector.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches. A judge or magistrate must issue a search warrant to authorize law enforcement officers to search a particular location and seize specific items. To obtain a search warrant, police must show probable cause that a crime was committed and that items connected to the crime are likely to be found in the place specified by the warrant.
Monday afternoon Conservation Officers Shane Webster and Joshua Wright taught recruits about stopping vehicles and occupant control.
“Officer and public safety are essential components of the job,” said CO Wright. “Traffic stops are unpredictable – it’s important that officers practice methods to keep themselves safe, as well as the people in the vehicle they have stopped and other drivers.”
Driving a conservation officer patrol truck, recruits completed scenarios in which they observed a traffic violation. Recruits pulled the vehicle over and utilized the skills they have learned in the classroom, with a staff member following them as a proctor to ensure they accurately completed the traffic stop.
Monday photo: A recruit practices a traffic stop scenario.
On Tuesday morning Inspector Greydanus continued legal training, teaching exceptions to search warrants, including administrative searches. Conservation officers conduct a variety of administrative searches and must receive legal authority before conducting them. These types of searches include meat processor and taxidermy inspection records. Recruits completed written scenarios to demonstrate the correct action they would take as officers.
That afternoon recruits practiced felony traffic stops with Conservation Officers Webster and Wright, who instructed on proper vehicle placement during a felony stop and the roles and procedures that each officer has during a felony stop. Officers use a universal procedure for felony traffic stops. Felony traffic stops are high-risk – learning the universal procedure ensures officers can respond and provide each other with backup.
Tuesday photo: Conservation Officer Webster instructs a recruit on proper safety procedures for making a traffic stop.
Wednesday morning the recruits were split into groups to practice search warrant law based on an illegal deer scenario. The scenario involved a man with a deer in his garage; the man closed the garage door when he noticed the recruits. Recruits executed a search warrant, communicating their step-by-step process to Inspector Greydanus as they worked through the house.
Conservation officers specialize in search warrants on illegal deer and writing and issuing social media preservation letters to investigate cases. Conservation Officer Christopher Holmes discussed these areas, including the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s policies and processes regarding search warrants. Recruits completed the lesson by applying legal skills to fish and game cases.
Wednesday photo 1: Recruits worked in teams to execute a search warrant based on an illegal deer scenario.
Wednesday photo 2: A recruit photographs an illegally harvested animal he finds while conducting a search warrant scenario.
Thursday morning Conservation Officer Sgt. Bobbi Lively instructed on conservation law. Conservation laws are extensive and cover all laws pertaining to hunting, fishing, trapping and recreation. COs enforce a variety of these laws and need to understand how to apply each law during different seasons. Conservation officers should be able to interpret laws quickly and recognize if a violation is a civil infraction, misdemeanor or felony. Sgt. Lively shared tips that recruits can use to access information utilizing the Law Enforcement Division’s resources.
Thursday photo: Conservation Officer Sgt. Bobbi Lively taught the class about Conservation Law.
Friday morning Recruit School #9 learned about prisoner care from Conservation Officer Matthew Neterer. CO Neterer instructed the class on proper procedures for people in custody, sharing experiences from his previous career as a corrections deputy.
The class also learned they would be taking a field trip to the Ingham County Jail. At the jail, Major Darin Southworth hosted the recruits on tour of the prisoner pods, jail cells, kitchen, intake, day rooms and Sally Port (a secure entryway to the prison). The tour provided the recruits an understanding of what happens after they drop somebody off at jail, the importance of recognizing medical emergencies of prisoners before they are booked into jail and the importance of conducting a thorough search before prisoners are sent into the jail – ensuring the safety of the officer, correction deputies and other inmates.
Recruits utilized their morning break to practice their public speaking skills, presenting to each other topics around bear and predator hunting.
After break, recruits conducted mock trials in the courtroom – testifying about a report writing scenario they were put through during week six. Magistrate Mark Blumer of the 55th District Court of Ingham County oversaw the case while attorneys Carl Woodard and Timothy Williams acted as the prosecutor and defense attorney and examined the facts in the recruits’ reports. This exercise exposed recruits to the importance of being clear and concise in report writing, along with the stress an officer may feel when testifying.
Friday photo 1: Recruits received a tour of the Ingham County Jail.
Friday photo 2: Recruits present to each other topics around bear hunting and predator hunting.
Friday photo 3: Recruits were in court testifying about a scenario they had completed during week six.