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Training Academy #12: Week 1

Sept. 5-9, 2023

Author: PCO Chris Kravitsky, Marlette, Michigan

group of officers smiling, standing outside in front of a building

Photo caption: The 12 probationary conservation officers of Training Academy #12 began their 10-week training on Sept. 5. The group of pre-certified officers bring a vast array of law enforcement experience from other police agencies in Michigan and will now focus on training specific to the natural resources and recreational safety and education. 

On Sept. 25, the 12 probationary conservation officers of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Training Academy #12 reported to Lansing to begin 10-weeks of training. Training Academy #12 consists of pre-certified law enforcement officers – people who are already certified through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). 

Since we are already MCOLES-certified officers, we are referred to as probationary conservation officers (PCOs) instead of recruits. This blog will share what it’s like going through the pre-certified officer academy.

Most of us have been law enforcement officers within different agencies in Michigan. We made the career change – a lateral transfer – to become conservation officers. Since we already have the background and experience in traditional law enforcement, such as road patrol and general criminal matters, we only need to complete the 10 weeks of conservation officer training that focuses on natural resource laws, rules and regulations, and recreational safety.

Day one, a Tuesday, consisted of receiving uniforms, equipment, firearms and computers. While receiving equipment, we were able to get to know each other. Our training academy quickly formed a strong bond. In the afternoon we reported to a classroom to go over policies, procedures and academy expectations.

On Wednesday, we reported in uniform and began reviewing different paperwork we had to complete for our employment and the agency. In the afternoon, DNR Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Brandon Kieft addressed the class, followed by LED Chief Dave Shaw. All 12 PCOs were sworn in and we received our badges. It was a great feeling when my classmates and I received our badge from the chief. Chief Shaw’s speech was very welcoming as he explained to the class how excited the DNR was to have hired pre-certified officers who offered a vast array of experience. Chief Shaw further advised the class on how taking care of family was very important as well, which struck home with me; I am spending the next 10 weeks away from my wife and young children.

On Thursday and Friday, we continued to learn different DNR computer systems, policies and procedures. We also dove into conservation laws. Friday evening, we were able to go home for the weekend. Since Monday was the Labor Day holiday, we were assigned virtual trainings to complete from home on Saturday to prepare us for the following week.

Week one was very informative and a little mind blowing. It’s very apparent that the Michigan DNR cares about their employees and provides each one of us with the equipment and training needed to conduct our jobs effectively. I am excited that the DNR gave me the opportunity to be a member of this lateral training academy, allowing me and the other PCOs – who already have several years of prior law enforcement experience – to now receive specific training on conservation enforcement. I have over 13 years of experience from my previous law enforcement agency and I can say that it’s one of the best decisions I ever made to become a conservation officer.

Read Week 2