20 candidates begin training to join state conservation officer ranks

The 18th class of candidates to take part in the Department of Natural Resources’ Conservation Officer Academy has begun training at Camp Ripley. This year’s class includes 20 recruits with diverse backgrounds. 

The officer candidates began training at Camp Ripley on May 2 and will continue there until Aug. 14, learning about topics ranging from fish and wildlife laws to patrol procedures, rules of evidence to fish and wildlife investigation. Upon graduation, they’ll spend several months field training with experienced officers. The candidates will be stationed Dec. 4.

“Conservation officers play a vital role in protecting natural resources and public safety in Minnesota,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “I’m confident this class of recruits will continue our proud tradition of enforcing natural resources and focusing on education and outreach as we serve the citizens of Minnesota.”

Attendees of this year’s Academy bring with them a wide variety of experiences. Some have a traditional law enforcement background while others took part in a program called CO PREP, which provides candidates before the Academy with law enforcement training such that they’re eligible for Peace Officer Standards and Training certification.

The Enforcement Division also is accepting applications through May 23 for CO PREP candidates for a planned Academy in 2019. More information on CO PREP and the application process is available on the DNR website.

There are 155 conservation officer field stations in Minnesota. Each station covers about 650 square miles.