Updated: September 27, 2022
A total of 42 recruits are in training as part of the largest academy for state conservation officers with the Department of Land and Natural Resources Conservation and Resources Enforcement division.
37 men and five women began their training on Monday, which includes nine months of classroom instruction followed by two months in the field under the supervision of a training officer.
By this time next year, if they all succeed, DOCARE will have dozens of additional conservation officers to beef up the ranks in all four branches of the agency: O‘ahu, Hawai‘i Island, Maui, and Kaua‘i.
“This is the largest academy we’ve ever staged,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “This is our third academy, and the second for recruits who have no previous law enforcement training or background. It comes at a critical time for us, as the pressures and impacts on Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural resources increase all the time. These folks will help our existing officers educate people using State lands and ocean waters.”
The addition of new officers received support from Governor David Ige and the Hawai‘i State Legislature. DLNR/DOCARE is partnering with the Department of the Attorney General, the Department of Accounting and General Services, and Honolulu Community College, which is part of the University of Hawai‘i system and was instrumental in designing the academy curriculum.
Lt. Carlton Helm leads the academy program for DOCARE and describes the adaptive and flexible attitude recruits will need to adopt to succeed and to become sworn officers.
“The pandemic really highlighted the need for resilience and being adaptive and fluid to the working and occupational environment we work in. For example, a Hawai‘i Island DOCARE officer may have to respond to the hunting areas on Mauna Kea one morning, and then find themselves responding to the rain forests of Puna or Volcano in the afternoon. Teaching these recruits about being adaptive and fluid is an important component of their training. Their bodies, their minds, and their spirit will need to be adaptive,” Helm explained.
The mission to provide around-the-clock protection for a monk seal mother and her pup on O‘ahu’s Kaimana Beach, provides a real-time example of the need for additional conservation officers around the state. “The addition of new officers will be critical to not only support regular patrol needs but will help DOCARE ensure we have adequate coverage for large, time-consuming missions, as well as to beef up our ranks for special duty on other islands when needed,” Helm said.