Pursuant to the IDNR (Conservation) Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois (20 ILCS 805/805-535) as amended on August 13, 2012, applicants for the position of COPT must meet the following minimum professional standards:
The person must hold:
· A Bachelor’s Degree or
· An Associate’s Degree and three consecutive years of experience as a police officer with the same law enforcement agency
The above collegiate educational requirements are waived if one of the following conditions have been met:
· Have been honorably discharged and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global Ware on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by the United States Armed Forces
· Active members of the Illinois National Guard or a reservist component of the United States Armed Forces and awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal because of honorable service during deployment on active duty.
The individual must successfully obtain certification as a police officer under the standards in effect at the time and must successfully complete the Conservation Police Academy training program, consisting of not less than 400 hours of training within one year of hire. The IDNR has adopted an administrative rule listing those disciplines that qualify as directly related areas of study. Administrative Rule 2050.30.
CPOT TESTING AND HIRING PROCESS
1. The written examination tests the following: observation and memory; public relations; writing skills; and reading comprehension.
Each phase of the hiring process takes place on prescheduled dates at prescheduled locations. Due to the logistics of establishing this process and budgetary constraints, individual accommodation requests for any of the process phases will not be granted.
Transportation to and from the fitness assessment test, swim test, oral interview, psychological assessment and medical examination is the responsibility of each applicant.
2. The Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report ("POWER" Test)
Applicants selected from the eligibility list are invited to participate in a POWER test. This test is designed to assess aerobic capacity (1.5-mile run), strength (bench press), muscular endurance (one-minute sit-ups), and flexibility (sit & reach test). Applicants must pass all four tests to continue in the hiring process. During the selection process, applicants will be asked to sign an Agreement for Reimbursement in which the applicant agrees to reimburse the IDNR for some expenses unless the applicant remains in employment as a CPOT/Conservation Police Officer (CPO) for at least 36 months.
3. The SWIM test
Applicants successfully completing the POWER test, are invited to participate in the SWIM test. Individuals must complete a swimming competency test, without the use of swimming aids, administered by the Office of Law Enforcement’s Training section. The swim test consists of a 300-yard continuous swim without stopping or touching the bottom of the pool. Any approved stroke or combination of strokes established by the American Red Cross may be used. Applicants must continuously tread water for 10 minutes without touching the bottom or sides of the pool and retrieve an object of contrasting color weighing 5 pounds from a minimum 10-foot depth and deliver the weight to the side of the pool.
4. Oral Interview
Oral interviews will be scheduled for the individuals successfully completing the SWIM test. The oral interview helps to assess communication skills, experience, knowledge and abilities, and to ascertain the applicant’s qualifications for the job.
Taking into consideration the oral interview, applicants will be selected to continue through the next phases of the hiring process as follows:
5. Background Investigation
A thorough background investigation is completed on all applicants selected. This investigation begins shortly after the oral interview. Each applicant must be deemed a suitable candidate for law enforcement and employment as a CPOT.
6. Psychological Examination
Selected applicants will be required to take a psychological examination that consists of both written and oral exams. Successful applicants must be deemed suitable for law enforcement and employment as a CPOT.
7. Medical Examination
All successful applicants will also be required to pass a medical examination conducted by the department’s choice of medical facility.
Once hired, the new employee is officially titled a CPOT for a minimum of one full year. The new officer’s training is very intense.
Training New Officers
The newly hired CPOTs must attend a total of 28 weeks in two separate Academy training programs in Springfield.
· The first is a 14-week program mandated by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board entitled the "560-Hour Basic Law Enforcement Course." The curriculum prepares the recruit to function as a peace officer and focuses upon human behavior, pertinent Illinois' statutes, patrol techniques and investigations, police proficiency skills, and traffic enforcement. Current full-time sworn law enforcement officers in Illinois may have the “Basic Law Enforcement Course” waived if the Department deems eligible.
· The second program is a 14-week basic Conservation Police Officer Trainee Course that we administer ourselves to prepare the recruit peace officer to function as a CPO in Illinois. The 560-hour curriculum focuses primarily upon Conservation-related topics such as: wildlife enforcement; sport and commercial fisheries enforcement; watercraft safety equipment, registration, operation, and accident investigation; snowmobile laws; operation of watercraft and snowmobile under the influence laws; IDNR Administrative Rules & Regulations, licenses and permits; state park and site regulations; endangered species protection; timber buyers and forest products transportation acts; applicable U.S. Fish & Wildlife laws; commercial establishments; officer survival; and enforcement techniques, procedures, and proficiency skills.
Upon completion of the two Academic Programs, CPOTs are assigned to rotating field locations within the state and receive five months of "on-the-job" training by working with veteran officers (called the Field Training Officer's Program or FTO Program). At the beginning of field training, the CPOT functions as the "observer" with the FTO performing most of the enforcement duties. As the weeks pass, the roles reverse with the CPOT taking over more and more of the enforcement duties as the FTO observes his/her progress. The FTO provides daily guidance to assure specific training tasks are completed, and formally records and evaluates the CPOT's job performance each day. The CPOT is in a trainee status for a minimum of 12 months, followed by four more months on probation status before being certified as full-fledged CPO.
Although CPOs have full police authority in the enforcement of all Illinois Compiled Statutes, their primary enforcement mission is to focus upon those laws and activities associated with natural resource protection and recreational safety. Examples of these duties include:
· Enforcing criminal laws, vehicle laws, drug laws, etc. in the State Parks.
· Patrolling Illinois lakes and rivers to check boating safety equipment and watercraft registration. Responding to boating accidents.
· Enforcing the fish and wildlife laws (checking hunters, trappers, sport and commercial fishermen for licenses, fish & game size/possession limits, season dates and hours, etc.) enforcing the Federal fish & wildlife laws.
· Enforcing timber buyers and forest products transportation laws; endangered species laws; snowmobile registration and operation laws; commercial establishments (e.g. fur buyers, taxidermists, fish markets) and Departmental (IDNR) administrative rules and regulations.
· Assisting other law enforcement agencies, or helping in certain emergency/rescue situations.
Not all the duties involve enforcement. A CPO’s workload involves non-enforcement activities as well.
· Public speaking at sport or hunt clubs, civic organizations, school classrooms etc.
· Staffing information booths at major sports, travel or boating expositions and during “Law Enforcement Career Days” at specific colleges, universities and high schools in Illinois.
· Assisting with hunting, boating and snowmobiling safety education programs.
· Providing instruction to other police agencies in certain “conservation type” laws or related enforcement procedures.
· Working with college students who earn credit hours in an internship program.
· Attending various in-service type training programs as well as specialized schools (forensics, commercial establishments, sonar use, waterfowl enforcement, interview and interrogation schools, DUI and OUI enforcement, accident investigation (boating, hunting, snowmobile) etc.
Officers work the hours of highest activity, which varies from season to season, as assigned by their supervisors. CPOs are assigned to a progressive day-off schedule (e.g. Week 1, Thursday and Friday off; Week 2, Friday-Sunday off; Week 3, Saturday-Monday off; Week 4, Monday and Tuesday off; Week 5, Tuesday and Wednesday off, etc.)
Field Placement and Transfers:
Applicants must be willing to relocate anywhere in the state following completion of the Academy and FTO programs. Transfers are contingent upon geographic openings and operational necessity of the Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).
CPOs may volunteer for specialized training allowing them to participate as OLE Instructors, firearms program range personnel, officer survival/defense tactics program personnel, undercover investigations, sonar and forensics officers, Academy advisors, field training officers, etc.
Promotional opportunities are contingent upon vacancies becoming available within the rank structure.