LDWF Enforcement Division Cadet Instruction Seeks To Place Highly Qualified Agents Into The Field
story by Adam Einck, LDWF Public Information
In order to perform all the different aspects of being a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent, the LDWF Enforcement Division relies on agents that are efficient with their patrols and highly trained for the job.
Keeping a capable number of LDWF enforcement agents in the field is essential for the Enforcement Division to meet its objective of ecosystem enforcement of all the conservation laws, boating safety patrols and education, maritime security and search and rescue missions.
However, as with any organization, there will be attrition. The LDWF Enforcement Division is no different. As agents retire or switch careers, LDWF needs to recruit and train new agents to fill in the gap.
“Recruiting and training go hand in hand in making a great field agent,” said Col. Sammy Martin, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division. “First thing we have to do is promote the profession to the public. Then we need to select the correct candidates that can complete the academy. Finally, we need to train the cadets to become successful agents that will make this their career.”
The LDWF Enforcement Division created a recruiter position in 2017 that focuses on reaching more qualified candidates who have the motivation and interest in becoming an LDWF agent while also diversifying the workforce.
“We are always on the lookout for people that have a love for the outdoors, law enforcement and are interested in what we do as wildlife agents,” said Lt. Stan House, the LDWF Enforcement Division’s Recruiting Coordinator. “We want to reach out to as many people as possible and do this by going to career days at schools, job fairs across the state and talking to people one on one to determine if they would be a good fit for the job.”
When the Enforcement Division’s head count gets low enough from the 235 agents allotted by the state and the budget allows, then it is time to announce another academy.
Which is exactly what happened in March of 2018 when LDWF announced it was looking for 24 cadets for a new academy that began in July of 2018.
“In an ideal world we would like to have an academy of about 24 agents at least once a year,” said Martin. “Of course sometimes due to budgetary reasons it hasn’t always been possible to have an academy every year. That is why it is important to make sure you have all of the minimum qualifications needed and are ready for the next academy when it is announced.”
Since the wildlife cadet job posting is only open for new applications for a few weeks, LDWF encourages anyone that is interested in becoming an agent to sign up for the wildlife cadet job posting email alert from the Louisiana Civil Service website that notifies them when the job is open. They are also encouraged to complete the Law Enforcement and Protective Services (LEAP) exam with a score of 77 or higher as the score remains valid for up to two years.
Minimum qualifications to become an agent consist of one of the following:
- Two years of experience as a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) level 1 certified peace officer in a full-time position, whose job duties include armed duty with the power of arrest.
- A minimum of 60 semester hours from an accredited college or university.
- Any two-year combination of Options 1 and 2 above, whereby thirty semester hours will be equivalent to one year of experience.
- Completion of an associate degree in business administration, business management, corrections, criminal justice, law enforcement, forestry or a conservation related science from a technical college. Accumulation of technical college hours without an associate degree does not qualify.
- A completed diploma or certificate in a two-year program in business administration, business management, corrections, criminal justice, law enforcement, forestry or a conservation related science from a vocational or technical school.
- Four years of continuous active military duty (all Military Occupational Specialties apply).
Once a new academy is approved, it is announced via a news release and listed as open on the Louisiana Civil Service website under Wildlife Cadet.
Those interested must fill out the job application from the civil service website when the job is open. If the applicant meets the minimum requirements and has a qualifying score on the LEAP test, then he or she may be called to take the next step in the selection process.
The selection process that follows includes interviews, background checks and physical fitness assessments. Once candidates successfully make it through the selection process they are hired as cadets for the next academy.
“Our hope is to recruit potential candidates that have the minimum qualifications, can graduate from the six month long academy and ultimately become good agents in the field,” said House.
At the six-month academy held in Baton Rouge, cadets train to enforce the state’s recreational boating laws and the state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws. The academy also covers general law enforcement training equal to that of other state law enforcement officers. Agents are additionally trained for search and rescue as they serve as the lead responders in search and rescue coordination under the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
At the academy cadets are also POST certified, which is required for all law enforcement personnel. POST certification consists of physical fitness, defensive tactics, firearms, state and federal law, proper law enforcement and arrest procedures, DWI detection and apprehension, standard first aid and other various areas of law enforcement.
Cadet’s also receive specialized training in areas that are more consistent with that of an LDWF enforcement agent. These areas include, but are not limited to, ATV operator certification, waterfowl detection, violator apprehension, wildlife forensics, wildlife and fish identification, land and water navigation, extensive boat handling, enforcement of state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws, water survival, marine theft identification and hunter education instructor certification.
“Cadets that graduate are well trained in almost all aspects of law enforcement whether it be a traffic stop on the highway or a creel check on the water,” said Chris Carpenter, LDWF’s Enforcement Division’s director of training. “Our cadets also need to know regular laws as well as wildlife and fisheries laws and regulations. So there is a lot of law enforcement activities and classroom work covered in the academy.”
The graduating agents then fill vacancies in LDWF’s Enforcement Division and will be assigned to a field-training officer for their first four to six months of duty.
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