It is a great day when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) adds graduates of the Wildlife Officer Academy to the ranks of its Law Enforcement Division.
CDFW’s 61st Wildlife Officer Academy class will graduate Friday, Aug. 10, with a final inspection at noon and the formal ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise. The 32 new wildlife officers will begin the CDFW Field Training Program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced Field Training Officers (FTOs). Two additional cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of applying for a wildlife officer position with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division or a different law enforcement agency.
“Both full-time Academy staff and dozens of wildlife officers go to great lengths to prepare our newest wildlife officers to serve and protect the public and the precious resources of this state,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement.
CDFW’s Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California. Field training with experienced FTOs is also mandated by POST to be sure new wildlife officers can apply the skills they learned during the academy to real life circumstances. The Field Training Program is the final stage of formal training. Upon successful completion, these officers will begin patrolling California to protect the natural resources of this great state.
Wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations annually. These officers primarily work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who almost always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wildlife officers have large patrol districts and great responsibilities, and frequently a sole officer will cover an entire county. The average California wildlife officer’s patrol district exceeds 500 square miles.
In 2008, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art POST-certified academy facility with 43 years of police training history.
The Law Enforcement Division will be accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2018, for the Academy beginning in January 2020. For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.