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42 recruits to increase ranks of Hawai’i conservation officers by 50%: Big Island Now

42 recruits to increase ranks of Hawai’i conservation officers by 50%: Big Island Now

42 recruits to increase ranks of Hawai’i conservation officers by 50%: Big Island Now
The recruit class ran, walked, and did calisthenics during a physical training exercise to the Mokulēia Forest Reserve on O’ahu’s North Shore on Friday morning. Photo Courtesy: Department of Land and Natural Resources

Forty-two recruits will be commissioned as Hawai’i Conservation Resources Enforcement Officers in mid-March. The ceremony will expand the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, or DOCARE, by 50%.

For the past seven months, 37 men and five women have been receiving intensive classroom instruction on a wide range of subject matters and issues they’re likely to encounter when they spread out across the state. Before they begin working alone, they’ll have another three months of field training under the watch of experienced DOCARE officers.

Their curriculum was developed in collaboration with the criminal justice program at Honolulu Community College, according to DLNR officials, who say it’s a nod to ensure all CREOs receive formalized training in legal issues; state statutes and administrative rules; hunting and hunting regulations; firearms, watercraft and off-road vehicle operations.

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DOCARE officers/CREOs have full police powers, though they focus on educating and enforcing natural and cultural resources rules and regulations.

Friday morning, the recruit class ran, walked, and did calisthenics during a physical training exercise to the Mokulēia Forest Reserve on O’ahu’s North shore. Together they made the grueling 3-and-a-half-mile run and walk to the Peacock Flats campground, where Lt. Carlton Helm told them, “You know how many people fought to get to these positions (more than 500 applicants). This is a literal 42-in and 42-out. Everybody picked everybody up, because you’re all ‘ohana.’

Midway through the run, Helm got on his truck’s loudspeaker and offered words of encouragement. This is your working environment, class. This is a lifestyle job, enjoy it, take in all these views,” he announced. DOCARE officers are responsible for enforcement of natural resource laws from mauka to makai.

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All DOCARE branches on O’ahu, Hawai’i Island, Kaua’i, and across Maui Nui will take on additional officers after graduation. DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla said, “We are deeply indebted to the state legislature for recognizing the need for additional resources to protect our natural resources, by providing the necessary funding to stand-up the academy.”

The recruits’ classroom training ends in a few weeks and then they will rotate through a series of field training exercises focused on ocean safety, watercraft and ATV/off-road operations. During their final academy days, they’ll go through scenario-based training. The 2022-23 DOCARE Academy graduation ceremony is scheduled for March 17.

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