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Recruit School #11: Week 15

Oct. 16-21, 2022

Author: CO recruit writer

two damaged cars parked in the grass near a tree outside of a building

Photo caption: Two cars that were in a previous car accident were positioned for recruits to conduct a traffic crash investigation to solve what happened.

Conservation Officer Recruit School #11 returned to the Michigan State Police training academy in Lansing for week 15 of the academy. During week 14, we were located at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center in Roscommon for basic search and rescue, along with firearms training. Through the 15 weeks, we recruits have grown closer and are working better together as a team instead of individually. I have noticed as each week progresses we continue to strengthen in every aspect of the academy.

Our Monday morning physical training session was led by Conservation Officer Casey Varriale. We completed a cardio-based workout which included flutter kicks, pushups, situps and lunges. Prior to the academy, I spent a lot of my time lifting weights and working out in a gym setting. Thanks to the academy staff leading us through these workouts, I am in the best cardio shape of my life.

For our morning class, David Greydanus, retired MSP inspector, returned to teach us about domestic violence laws and civil liability.

Detective Diana Mills, Mount Morris Police Department, and Genesee County Prosecutor Jennifer Jenetsky instructed the class about human trafficking, an ongoing issue that has increased throughout the United States. Each family should communicate thoroughly with their friends and children so we can help educate individuals on what to look out for. Some signs of human trafficking include multiple people living in poor conditions, evidence of physical abuse, or people who won’t speak to others alone.

During physical training Tuesday we were in the “tank.” Personally, this has been the hardest type of physical training for me while at the academy. Despite not being easy, water physical training has a lot of purpose when it comes to being a conservation officer. We will patrol on or near the water and have a high likelihood of encountering a water-based emergency or falling into the water during a patrol.

Later in the day, Det. Mills and Jenetsky were back in the classroom teaching us about a crucial and sensitive topic – criminal sexual assault and child criminal assault cases, one of the most uncomfortable but important types of crimes that we will learn about throughout the academy. The shared knowledge between these two professionals is incredible and we are very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them.

recruits use a tape measurer to measure a road near a building and a damaged car, one recruit sketches on a notepad

Photo caption: During a traffic crash investigation scenario, recruits take measurements of the roadway that will help them determine how a vehicle crash occurred. Conservation officers often conduct traffic crash investigations including, but not limited to off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.

Following a cardio-based workout Wednesday morning, we were greeted by Sgt. Chad Lindstrom and Sgt. Scott Carlson of MSP’s Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit. As conservation officers it is very important that we have a general understanding of how to conduct traffic crash investigations, as we will come across different types of accidents including off-road vehicle and snowmobile accidents. In rural areas of Michigan where law enforcement is limited, conservation officers might be the first or only emergency responders able to assist on a vehicle accident.

In the evening, academy staff conducted a domestic violence scenario, with recruits partnered up to respond to a man and woman actively arguing.

Thursday we “fell into the tank” for physical training. One exercise we completed was called deep-water pushups. In my mind this is the equivalent to falling over the side of a boat and having to push yourself back up into the boat. Many exercises in the tank relate to real-life scenarios.

close up of a person sketching on a piece of paper

Photo caption: As one of the first steps to conducting a traffic crash investigation, recruits were instructed to draw a sketch to document the scene. As the investigation continues officers record measurements of important evidence (such as skid marks or car debris remnants on the road).

MSP. Sgt. Allan Avery joined us for morning and evening classes. We learned more about traffic crash investigations and traffic crash evidence collection. In the evening, we participated in two scenarios: one single-vehicle accident and a two-car accident. Recruits drew hand sketches of each accident and took measurements as part of the crash investigation. Officers are trained to do this as part of the initial crash site investigation, which helps decipher the cause of the accident.

person using two tape measurers that intersect, forming a point of axis

Photo caption: Recruits use tape measurers to form a point of axis. Traffic crash investigators use this mark as a permanent point of reference for measurement in case they need to reconstruct the crash at a later time.

Thursday evening closed with each recruit having the chance to respond to a small-game hunting scenario involving a man who was just finishing an evening hunt. When I contacted the man, he did not have a license, which is a violation. In Michigan you must have a current hunting license if you are actively hunting. The man was also in possession of a mourning dove that he had killed, which was another violation. In Michigan, there is no mourning dove season. Scenarios are very important for recruits because they are the closest thing to actually being in the field. I enjoy learning this way and appreciate academy staff and the time they invest to prepare us for the field.

Friday, Varriale led us in a 4.5-mile cadence run, with each recruit getting the chance to lead.

Following physical training, we concluded our last class of traffic crash investigation, instructed by MSP Sgt. Gregory Kamp. The knowledge we gained this week will follow us into the field. The class finished by reviewing for our upcoming test that will take place next week.

We have come along way as a class, but we must continue to stay locked on and focused. Each day of the academy is part of a 23-week-long job interview, as we strive to succeed and impress the academy staff. I am grateful for my fellow recruits, who have turned into my family. I am 7.5 hours away from home, which is mentally tough, but the 12 classmates in RS11 make it a lot easier for me. Sgt. King and the rest of the academy staff have worked tirelessly day in and day out each week instructing us and turning us into better recruits and, hopefully, Michigan DNR conservation officers.

Read Week 16.