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CO Training Academy: Week 16 - Oct. 28-Nov. 2


Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy started week 16 by bringing food donations for communities across Michigan. The 24 recruits collected more than 1,300 non-perishable food items to contribute to the Michigan Harvest Gathering – a campaign that donates to the Food Bank Council of Michigan, which supports nearly 3,000 community agencies throughout the state. The academy instills in officers the value of being active members in the communities they serve. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, 16 percent of people in Michigan aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.

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Sunday photo: Recruit School 9 of the DNR Conservation Officer Academy donated more than 1,300 non-perishable food items to the Food Bank Council of Michigan.


After physical training Monday morning, the recruits reported to the classroom for a lecture about digital crime scenes and evidence preservation. CO Mark Papineau presented to the class on techniques that can be used when natural resource crimes are discovered online and how to properly preserve evidence from online sources and electronic devices. Conservation officers have to learn and adapt to technology as it evolves, in order to preserve evidence for use in prosecution of natural resource cases.

Monday afternoon, the recruits completed survival tactics training scenarios. Conservation officers receive extensive training on using the minimum force necessary to make the arrest. In the scenario, the recruits reported to a scene to back up officers who were attempting to arrest a resisting suspect. When arriving to the scene, the recruits were able to assist with the handcuffing of the suspect and ensure the proper use of force, leading to a lawful arrest.


Monday photo: A recruit (right) takes charge of the scene and demonstrates the proper use of force to complete the arrest.


Tuesday morning the recruits learned about sketching crime scenes and photographing evidence. COs are often the first to arrive on scene and need to use their department-provided technology to capture evidence.

Later in the morning, Dr. Jeannette Kanefsky from Michigan State University’s Molecular Ecology Laboratory taught the recruits about the lab’s capabilities and protocols. Services such as genotyping animals, biological evidence analysis and DNA matching are useful resources to conservation officers when investigating fish and game cases. Recruits learned about proper packaging and preservation of biological evidence, fish, mammals and birds when submitting evidence to the lab.


On Wednesday the recruits had to apply their survival tactics skills for cumulative testing. The recruits rotated stations to demonstrate the techniques they have learned during the previous 15 weeks, such as proper searching, handcuffing, strikes and takedowns.

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Wednesday photo 1: Two recruits practice skills to prepare for their cumulative survival tactics testing.

Wednesday photo 2: A recruit demonstrates handcuffing techniques during survival tactics testing.


Thursday morning the recruits visited the Windsor State Game Area (Eaton County) where they were tested on their evidence collection and scene preservation skills. The recruits responded to a scenario where a suspect was over-baiting and shot a deer out of season using a rifle. The recruits collected the evidence for prosecution, submitted mock reports and requested criminal charges.

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Thursday photo: A recruit takes a tissue sample from a whitetail gut pile for evidence.


Friday morning the recruits documented the evidence from the previous day. This concluded their training on crime scene searches, evidence collection and processing, and preservation and documenting a crime scene following department policies and procedures.

Friday afternoon Officer Derek Wicklund from the Green Bay Police Department (Wisconsin) taught the recruits about narcotics and dangerous drugs. Wicklund is a nationally certified drug recognition expert and former K9 officer. Conservation officers frequently encounter dangerous drugs during their routine patrol and need to know how to identify the drugs and safely collect them for evidence.