More than a dozen military veterans comprise first new CPO class since 2007
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today welcomed the newest members of the Illinois Conservation Police at a graduation ceremony in their honor at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The 14 recruits completed 24 weeks of intense general law enforcement training and specific conservation police training totaling nearly 1,000 hours to prepare them for their new jobs.
“Illinois Conservation Police are among the most diversely trained law enforcement units in all of Illinois, and I am very proud of the hard work and dedication these men and women have already displayed to get here today. I am equally as proud of each and every one of them for serving our country in the armed forces before returning home to protect the Land of Lincoln once again,” said Governor Quinn.
The 14 officers form just the ninth Conservation Police officer (CPO) class in the last 19 years, the first class of new CPOs since 2007, and the first class to be made up entirely of military veterans.
“We are thrilled to have these young men and women as a part of the Illinois DNR. Conservation Police are not just vital to protecting our wildlife and other natural resources, but also to protecting and serving the public in ways far beyond outdoor recreation safety and enforcement,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.
Conservation Police officer recruits are first required to attend the Illinois State Police (ISP) Academy for basic law enforcement training and certification. The ISP Academy lasts for 12 weeks and includes 480 hours of classroom instruction, practical training, and scenario training. The training covers everything from Illinois Vehicle and Criminal codes to domestic violence and drug enforcement.
Upon successful completion of the ISP Academy, recruits enter the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police (CPO) Academy. The CPO Academy is also 12 weeks in length with 480 hours of course work.
During the CPO Academy, recruits receive classroom instruction, field practical instruction, and scenario-specific training to develop skills of a Conservation Police officer that no other training can provide. The areas covered include the Wildlife Code, Fish and Aquatic Life Code, Boat Registration and Safety Act, Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act, Timber Enforcement, Endangered and Threatened Species, Migratory Waterfowl Act, defensive tactics training, firearms training, boat operation and handling, ATV operation and handling, and vehicle maintenance and operation with trailers.
Illinois Conservation Police officers protect Illinois citizens and visitors in state parks, on state waterways and on the highways and back roads of Illinois. They enforce game and fish laws, boat safety, timber regulations, and drug and traffic laws. CPOs assist outdoor recreation enthusiasts to enjoy their time outdoors safely and they are first responders in times of floods, tornadoes, blizzards, and other natural and man-made disasters.
The following individuals were sworn in as Conservation Police officers today:
Joseph Cochran – Carterville, IL
Robert Finn – Bartonville, IL
Michael Flipiak – LaSalle, IL
Zachary French - St. Peter, IL
Aaron Jansen – Liberty, IL
Troy Lazzell – Rushville, IL
Eric Mieure – Carbondale, IL
William Mueller – Steelville, IL
Jeffrey Rolfingsmeier - Aviston, IL
Lisa Schoenhoff – Effingham, IL
Benhamin Schultz – West Frankfort, IL
Bradley Thompson – Bushnell, IL
Mathew Viverito – Effingham, IL
Bryant Wright – Nokomis, IL
This new recruit class brings the total number of Conservation Police officers to 132. During its peak in the late 1970s, Illinois Conservation Police had as many as 189 officers on staff.