Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692
Thirty new law enforcement cadets graduated from the California Wildlife Officer Academy during ceremonies at the Performing Arts Center in Paradise on Aug. 14, 2015. The graduating class includes 23 sponsored warden cadets who will begin field training immediately. Another seven self-sponsored cadets paid their way through the academy and will apply to become wildlife officers.
“After 31 weeks of hard work at the academy, these cadets have earned the right to begin protecting California and ensuring the future of wildlife resources for the people of this great state,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Chief of Enforcement David Bess.
The CDFW 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.
For the 23 sponsored cadets, graduation concludes a rigorous 31 weeks of formal academy training, but marks the beginning of an additional three weeks of specialized training and certifications, followed by an additional 15 weeks of field training with seasoned field training officers (FTOs). Upon successful completion of the FTO program, these new officers will begin their incredible career patrolling California and protecting the fish and wildlife resources.
A special moment will occur during this year’s graduation, when Cadet William H. Castillo will be pinned by his father, Lt. Sam Castillo. Lt. Castillo is nearing retirement after a noteworthy 30 year career as a wildlife officer and Lieutenant for CDFW. Lt. Castillo will pass the torch to his son to honor the commitment of all wildlife officers who dedicate their lives to protecting California’s natural resources.
Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. Wardens mostly work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who nearly always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wardens cover large patrol districts, the average being more than 600 square miles. They do all this with a sense of pride and honor, for a job that is not only rewarding, but truly enjoyable.
In 2007, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wardens. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art academy facility and a POST-certified training program for wildlife officer cadets on the Butte College Oroville campus.
Butte College has a 40-year history of police recruit training. The 928-acre community college campus, the largest in California, is also a designated wildlife refuge.
CDFW anticipates the next round of warden cadet selection to begin in September or October of 2015, for the January 2017 academy. For more information about becoming a warden and to monitor when applications will be accepted, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/.