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CO Training Academy: Week 12 - Sept. 30-Oct. 5


On Monday morning Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy continued to learn about how to deal with juveniles. There are laws to properly detain juvenile offenders, with safety as the top priority.

The recruits spent every afternoon of week 12 at the Hal and Jean Glassen Shooting Education Center located at the DNR Rose Lake Shooting Range, learning about fish identification. Nearly every species of fish found in Michigan was on display for the recruits to handle and examine. Regardless of their knowledge of fish identification coming into the academy, by the end of the week the recruits were able to identify all fish species in Michigan.

"Commercial and recreational fishing are multibillion-dollar industries in the Great Lakes region. Conservation officers are responsible for ensuring that fish populations are protected for future generations to enjoy," said Cpl. Marvin Gerlach, commercial fish specialist.

fish id instruction fish identification, recruits

Monday photo 1: Recruits take notes as an instructor explains how to differentiate between salmon and trout.

Monday photo 2: The recruits spent every afternoon of week 12 learning how to properly identify all of Michigan's fish species.


Tuesday morning the recruits performed the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) physical fitness test. The results were compared to the fitness test conducted during the first week of the academy. The recruits improved in the vertical jump, sit-ups, push-ups and the half-mile shuttle run.

"All of the recruits have improved their strength and overall level of fitness. We will continue to challenge them to ensure that they exceed the qualifying physical fitness standards," said CO Matthew Neterer.

The recruits will have a final physical fitness test prior to graduation and must pass to be fully certified as a law enforcement officer. The recruits are expected to exceed the increased standards of the final physical fitness test to graduate the academy.

The remainder of the morning was spent learning how to handle child abuse and sexual assault investigations. Conservation officers are often first responders to scenes that involve physical abuse. It's important for a CO to know the laws around these types of investigations, and how to handle the sensitivity of a sexual or child abuse case.


Wednesday morning was spent learning about law enforcement active shooter emergency response. Unfortunately, active shooter situations have become a reality that all law enforcement must be prepared for. In the past, law enforcement officers were trained to wait until specially trained personnel could assemble and respond to the scene.

"Studies have shown that when law enforcement immediately engages and neutralizes the threat, it reduces the number of injuries and casualties," said CO Jason King.

As first responders, all Michigan DNR Conservation Officers have completed and will continue to receive up-to-date active shooter training. The extensive training includes how to safely and effectively respond to active shooter situations, neutralizing the threat and providing lifesaving measures.

The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency developed a standardized training for law enforcement agencies in the United States, preparing them to effectively work together to protect the public from mass acts of violence.

active shooter training active shooter training

Wednesday photo 1: Recruits check a section of a building while communicating with their partner, practicing for the event of an active shooter.

Wednesday photo 2: Two recruits receive instruction on how to approach open doors in the event of an active shooter situation.


The recruits were introduced to the "heavy bag" on Thursday morning during physical training. They used the bag to practice their survival tactic strikes while improving their upper body strength and endurance. 

Thursday morning's classroom session covered civil liability and civil law. Officers are responsible for their own actions, and they may be held accountable for deliberate harm to another person or property. If that happens, the officer is liable, and the DNR and/or officer could be monetarily responsible. Civil law deals with situations that are not criminal acts, including landlord/tenant evictions/disputes, child custody issues, disputes over ownership of property or money owed, and breach of contract.

Thursday afternoon the recruits went through scenarios that tested their ability to identify fish and their knowledge around the laws pertaining to different fish species.

In the first scenario, the recruits encountered an angler in possession of a "short" pike who had a valid fishing license. The size limit for northern pike is 24 inches - the angler was in possession of a pike measuring approximately 16 inches. 

The second scenario involved an angler who had a legal-sized pike but only had a hunting license available. The recruits had to use their discretion on how to handle each situation based on the information they gained during their investigation. Some recruits chose an educational approach, with a verbal warning given, while others issued a citation.

physical training, boxing filleted salmon

Thursday photo 1: The recruits practice kicks and strikes on the heavy bag during physical training, improving their upper body strength and endurance.

Thursday photo 2: Filleted male and female salmon on display for the recruits to examine.


On Friday morning the recruits received Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) training from Dominique Clemente, dispatch supervisor for the DNR's Report All Poaching center.

"LEIN is a tool that conservation officers use as a part of their daily work duties to check individuals for warrants, run firearm serial numbers, vehicle identification numbers and more - it is critical that COs know the policies and procedures that govern its use," Clemente said.

Friday afternoon, CO Shannon Kritz taught the recruits about interacting with families of juvenile offenders. Family members often become upset and/or defensive when learning that a juvenile committed a crime. COs need to be prepared to deal with emotional family members as well as the juvenile and the laws around juveniles.

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