The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ first conservation officer academy since 2008 graduated eight officers, including Cambridge-Isanti native Mitch Lawler.
The 12-week academy graduates fill eight of 25 vacant conservation officer field stations. The DNR’s Enforcement Division includes 155 field stations.
“I’m really excited to get out there and be the face of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,” said Lawler, a former deputy with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Department.
Joining Lawler as a new conservation officers are Amber Peterson, Scott Arntzen, Jason Beckmann, Anthony Bermel, Napoleon Genereux, Jennifer Mueller and Shawn Wichmann.
“When our recruits finish our academy, we know that they have received the best training available anywhere,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director. “We pride ourselves on selecting the best people available and giving them the best training in order to provide the highest quality service possible to the people of Minnesota who depend on us for natural resources protection.”
Training sessions at the academy included confiscations and forfeitures; warrants and exceptions; emergency vehicle operation; self-defense; watercraft laws; recreational vehicle safety and regulations; game identification and enforcement; hazardous materials; crime scene management; evidence collection; and aquatic invasive species identification.
Each of the graduating officers was chosen from more than 800 applicants who underwent a rigorous written practical examination to qualify for the academy, as well as a division interview, pre-work screening (functional capacity exam), a psychological profile and a background check.
The new officers will now spend the next 16 weeks field training with experienced conservation officers to gain on-the-job training for natural resources management and law enforcement-related activities before receiving their initial field station assignment. Another academy is scheduled to get underway this fall.