Courtesy of the Minnesota DNR
Seven new Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) conservation officers (COs) are on the job following 16 weeks of field training.
“These officers were recently added to the ‘thin green line’ sworn to uphold the laws and regulations that defend our natural resources,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director. “We are proud to have them aboard.”
The new officers and their field stations are: Jen Mueller, Hutchinson; Anthony Bermel, Ely/Babbitt; Scott Arntzen, Forest Lake; Mitch Lawler, Alexandria; Shawn Wichmann, Hill City; Jason Beckmann, Windom; and Amber Peterson, Maplewood. All have previous law enforcement experience.
“I’m really excited to get out there and be the face of the DNR,” said Lawler, a former deputy with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Department.
The 16-week field training follows graduation from the 12-week CO Academy at Camp Ripley. During field training, each recruit is paired with an experienced conservation officer to gain on-the-job training for natural resources management and law enforcement-related activities before receiving their initial field station assignment.
“When our recruits finish our academy, we know that they have received the best training available anywhere, but we take it a step further with intensive field training with an experienced field officer,” said Konrad. “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 our citizens who depend on us to protect and preserve our natural resources.”
Former Anoka County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Amber Peterson was among the more than 800 applicants who applied to become a conservation officer, her long-time goal.
“I’m getting the opportunity to combine my two passions: law enforcement and the outdoors,” Peterson said.