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CO Training Academy: Week 19 - Nov. 18-21


Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy woke bright and early Monday morning to complete circuit exercises in the gym. As recruits near the Dec. 21 graduation, it’s important that they continue a dedicated physical fitness regimen.

After room and floor inspection, Conservation Officer John Byars instructed recruits about proper vehicle registration and driver’s licenses. CO Byars reviewed the different types of licenses and the proper vehicle forms an individual must display when requested by an officer. Recruits also were trained in traffic control methods, including traffic flow, traffic direction and the use of roadway flares. Flare placement is very important – flares help coordinate the direction of travel for approaching motorists.

“When utilizing cones or flares to establish a traffic control pattern, the most important thing to remember is how the traffic control devices appear to an approaching motorist,” said Byars.

For example, a lane closure requires evenly spaced flares in a pattern that conveys to motorists that they should begin merging from one lane to another. Following the classroom instruction, recruits placed flares in mock traffic scenarios. 

The remainder of the day the recruits learned about traffic stops, writing citations, using discretion when giving verbal warnings versus issuing a citation and making arrests during a traffic stop. The recruits also spent time in the field, monitoring traffic and traffic patterns at local intersections.

flare, recruit, traffic direction

Monday photo: Recruits setup flares during mock traffic scenarios to direct approaching motorists.


Tuesday began in the tank with swimming exercises. After morning chow and daily inspection, the recruits were back in the classroom where Sgt. Jason Wicklund instructed about the National Incident Management System – a Federal Emergency Management Agency program. NIMS is a comprehensive approach to incident management and can be utilized in all types of emergencies; it is intended to be both flexible and standardized across the country.

Following afternoon chow, the recruits were given a set amount of time to prepare and present a topic of their choice to the class. Public speaking is a regular part of a CO’s job – while this may seem like a standard exercise, recruits are expected to be efficient public speakers. COs often are asked to speak at local events that range from just a few, to hundreds of attendees. Additionally, COs often are contacted by the media to provide statements regarding local topics and issues. Recruits must feel comfortable and confident in their ability to talk to, inform and educate the public.

Tuesday afternoon allowed recruits to enjoy their progress since July and see a glimpse into their future. The recruits traveled off-site and were fitted for their Class A department uniforms, which they will wear for the first time at graduation.

public speaking, recruit classroom, recruits

Tuesday photo 1: Recruits present topics of their choice to gain experience talking to crowds. Conservation officers often are called upon as public speakers at local events.

Tuesday photo 2: Recruits prepared and presented topics to their classmates to gain public speaking experience.


The cold air and brisk wind didn’t stop the recruits from completing a six mile run on Wednesday morning. Following physical training, the week concluded with a lesson from Dr. Michael Comer, contract police psychologist for the DNR Law Enforcement Division. Dr. Comer taught the recruits procedures for conducting subject interviews, methods to enhance their communication skills and how to read someone’s nonverbal cues.

Recruits were dismissed on Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

public speaking, recruits

Wednesday photo 1: Dr. Michael Comer works with recruits to improve their communication skills and instructs them on how to read someone’s nonverbal cues.

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