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CO Training Academy: Week 18 - Nov. 13-16


Recruits enjoyed a long weekend in honor of Veterans Day. There are several military veterans in Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy. The DNR Law Enforcement Division supports the recruitment and hiring of veterans – during the last four recruit schools, LED has hired 19 veterans to serve as conservation officers.

Week 18 focused on recognizing individuals impaired by alcohol, drugs and other controlled substances. This is an important part of a conservation officer’s training, as COs often come into contact with people who are under the influence while recreating. Alcohol is one of the leading factors of accidents involving boats and personal watercrafts, off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. It’s a CO’s job to ensure public safety is maintained while people are out enjoying Michigan’s great outdoors.


During the early hours of Tuesday, 24 recruits ran in formation around the drive track for physical training. With opening day of the firearm deer season later in the week, the recruits were shown and then practiced techniques for hoisting and securing a heavy animal, such as a deer, into the bed of their patrol trucks. This technique will help prevent recruits from hurting themselves when loading deer and bear into their trucks.

That afternoon, the recruits received training on how to identify and arrest impaired individuals who are driving motor vehicles or operating boats, personal watercrafts, snowmobiles and ORVs.


On Wednesday the recruits learned about standardized field sobriety tests and the signs an impaired individual may exhibit. The lesson presented information on different blood alcohol content levels and their effects on an individual. Recruits practiced enforcement skills to evaluate people who are impaired; these include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (involuntary bouncing or jerking of the eyes while impaired by alcohol or controlled substances) and the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests. The classroom lesson concluded with learning the proper way to administer standardized tests to individuals suspected of operating under the influence. Recruits wrapped up the day with hands-on experience practicing how to administer the field sobriety tests.

recruits practice sobriety test recruits practice sobriety tests recruits practice sobriety tests

Wednesday photo 1: A recruit wears a mask that simulates the effects of alcohol in the body. Recruits practiced different sobriety tests while wearing the mask to become familiar with different levels of intoxication in subjects.

Wednesday photo 2: Two recruits practice the horizontal gaze nystagmus sobriety test.

Wednesday photo 3: A recruit demonstrates the one-leg stand sobriety test.


After running the drive track to warm up for physical training, the recruits worked on their speed and agility through a series of calisthenics on the inclined loading dock of the academy building. Physical training for the morning concluded with a series of buddy lifts and team lifts that recruits learned during first aid week, including the firemen’s carry and seated carry.

Thursday morning recruits practiced their field sobriety testing skills from the previous day, in preparation for evaluation and testing.

The afternoon lesson included legalities of the preliminary breath test, using that test in conjunction with field sobriety tests, and the DataMaster (the breathalyzer test used in court). Recruits earned their DataMaster operator credentials later in the day.


Friday morning the recruits cleaned their department-issued firearms. The classroom portion of the day covered searching for and detecting fingerprints – recruits learned what crimes require subject fingerprinting and how to obtain fingerprints from objects touched by suspects. The week concluded with learning to use the live scan system – a fingerprinting system used by law enforcement in obtaining a suspect’s fingerprints for entry into the criminal justice system. All recruits became certified operators of the live scan system.

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