The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission graduated 18 new officers Feb. 1.
At a ceremony at the Florida Public Safety Institute near Tallahassee, the members of FWC’s 19th officer class pledged their efforts to patrol Florida’s lands and waters, protect its people and preserve its resources.
“Each year, more than seven million residents and visitors participate in resource-related outdoor activities in Florida and they contribute over $30 billions into the economy,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “We want these people to be able to enjoy Florida’s beautiful natural resources safely and for years to come.”
Making sure that is possible is just what these new officers will do.
FWC officers are responsible for patrolling all of Florida’s woods and waters, including its state forests and state parks. Due to their jurisdiction and specialized training and equipment, they are often the first to be able to respond to boating accidents, missing boaters and lost campers, hikers and hunters. Each year, FWC officers save around 1,000 people during search-and-rescue missions.
“Our officers are often the first point of contact people have with the agency,” said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement. “This privilege carries great responsibility, and I know these new officers will uphold our values: integrity, professionalism, dedication and adaptability.”
They began their training in July 2012. The beginning part of each FWC academy teaches recruits basic law enforcement techniques and skills.
“During the final eight weeks of each academy, we focus on the unique information and skills it takes to be an FWC officer,” Brown said.
The specialized training involves firearms proficiency, wildlife identification, vessel operation, defensive tactics, all-terrain vehicle operation, detection for boating and driving under the influence and a focus on state and federal wildlife, fisheries and environmental laws.
“These 18 individuals will now join an exceptional group as they face the challenging and rewarding path ahead,” Brown said.
They will spend the next three months with a field-training officer and are assigned to the following counties:
Collier: Nicole Allen, Marcus Reith, Christine Smith; Miami-Dade: Christine Baird, Adrian Perez; Putnam: Ryan Campbell; Highlands: Daniel Fagan; Monroe: Sean Hill, Lorenzo Veloz; Clay: Christiane LaRosa; Broward: Christopher Ryan, Donald Vacin; Martin: Tyson Matthews; Liberty: Charles Mims; Charlotte: Michael Morrison, Scott Sumpter; Franklin: Robert Ramos; St. Lucie: Justin Pifer