Twenty-three new law enforcement cadets graduated from the California Wildlife Officer Academy during ceremonies at the Performing Arts Center in Paradise on Aug. 12, 2016. The badge pinning and swearing-in ceremony included 12 sponsored warden cadets and two current peace officers who transferred as laterals from other agencies. These new wildlife officers have a few additional weeks of formal training before setting out on their first patrols with Field Training Officers (FTOs). The other 11 graduates were self-sponsored cadets who paid their way through the academy and are now eligible to apply for a wildlife officer position, or any other California law enforcement position. Three were already hired by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office as deputies.
“Our cadets and academy staff have worked extremely hard to develop the skills necessary to protect California’s fish and wildlife, and the public alike,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Chief of Enforcement David Bess. “I am confident they will serve our state well.”
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. FTO 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.
Two veteran wildlife officers had the special honor of passing the torch to family members. Twenty-five year veteran wildlife officer Lieutenant Marty Wall pinned his son, Douglas Wall. “It’s a proud moment and a true honor to see your son follow in your footsteps, sharing your values and continuing your life’s commitment to protecting California’s wildlife,” said Lt. Wall.
Thirty-year veteran wildlife officer Lieutenant Sam Castillo also pinned a badge on his nephew, Daniel Castillo.
Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. 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 40 years of police training history.
CDFW anticipates the next round of warden cadet selection to begin in September or October of 2016, with the next academy beginning in January 2017. For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.
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Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982