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Recruit School #11: Week 2

July 17-22

Fifteen conservation officer hopefuls returned for week two of training.

Though the recruits were still settling in, their surroundings at least provided some visual hints of what to expect. The rest would remain a surprise, since recruits know only to structure their days around 6 a.m. physical training and 7:15 a.m. chow (breakfast), followed by daily inspections.

Recruits splashed into the training tank Tuesday and Friday morning for physical training. Conservation officers work on or near the water every day, every season. They are expected to maintain water safety and rescue skills for the duration of their career.

People in swimming pool

Photo caption: On the left, four recruits perform deep-water pushups – where they use their arms to lift themselves out of the water, and then submerge under water. On the right, recruits perform sprints from wall to wall.

Even on land, physical training incorporated a water theme. Later in the week, recruits worked together to carry a canoe (that had a prop actor inside) while running for several miles. They stopped only to perform different exercises with the canoe.

Recruits pulling canoe

Photo caption: Recruits perform shuttle runs with a canoe that has an actor prop inside.

Michigan conservation officers are certified through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards test – the state-required credentials to be a law enforcement officer in Michigan. Recruits spend a significant amount of time in the classroom learning the many legal topics included on the test, including crimes against persons and crimes against property.

Deer blind in field

Photo caption: A deer blind that was intentionally sabotaged by someone putting manure on it. This is an example of hunter harassment that officers previously investigated.

Conservation officers often deal with hunter or angler harassment where crimes against a person or property occurred. Examples include a sabotaged hunting blind, a tree stand stolen from private property or intentional disruption of a fishing location. These cases might involve a combination of violations, such as stalking, trespassing, damaged or stolen property, or breaking and entering.

Conservation Officer Lt. Jeremy Payne oversees the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s policy committee. He introduced recruits to the several hundred LED policies and procedures that outline, for example, how conservation officers are expected to respond to legal situations, dress in appropriate uniform and use patrol equipment.

person in classroom

Photo caption: Jill Behnke, dispatcher from the Report All Poaching hotline, talks via radio to a recruit completing a scenario that tests their radio communication skills.

Jill Behnke, dispatcher with the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline, and CO Tim Rosochacki taught recruits how to use and communicate via radios. Each recruit completed a scenario that tested their radio communication. CO Rosochacki supervised the recruits, who communicated via patrol truck radio to Behnke, who was in the classroom.

Conservation officers carry radios on them and in their patrol vehicles to ensure they have constant communication with the RAP hotline dispatchers and their local county emergency dispatch.

radio communication scenario

Photo caption: A recruit reads a radio training scenario and then makes decisions about what information to communicate to dispatch. All scenarios are based on real-life events.

Officers may use radios to request background checks or license verification or call for backup. Anyone on the radio channel, such as other emergency responders and dispatchers, can hear statewide radio conversations, so it’s important to use clear and direct communication at all times.

Recruits concluded the week reviewing their exams from Thursday night. They are tested weekly on DNR topics, policies and procedures and MCOLES topics. If they fail, they have one chance to retest and pass. Failing a second time means the recruit loses their spot in the academy.

Read week 3.