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Secretary’s Message: November 2018

New Conservation Officers Step Up to the Challenge

Photo of Secretary Mark Belton onboard Natural 1It has been an exciting year for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police, as it celebrates its 150th anniversary and looks to the future with enhanced equipment, manpower and technology.

I’ve had the opportunity meet many brave, dedicated professionals through the years, but there is something special to me about a Natural Resources Police officer. To many it’s a dream job, getting to work outside and serve a vital conservation law enforcement mission: to protect the state’s precious natural resources and the citizens and visitors who enjoy them.

This month we are welcoming another 44 officers to our ranks, including 12 lateral officers who received a six weeks of environmental and natural resources training and 32 graduates of our own seven-month academy program. Everyone one of these officers will be out there, protecting our natural resources, serving our citizens and visitors, and upholding the agency’s core values: integrity, courtesy, dedication and professionalism.

Our training is longer than others, even the Maryland State Police, because in addition to the rigorous training necessary for any law enforcement officer, the Maryland Natural Resources Police must learn specialized skills unique to our mission. They need to be familiar with things that most police never encounter, such as seamanship and navigation, wildlife management and the various conservation and management rules that guide angling, hunting and more. 

Adaptability, stewardship and versatility are the hallmarks of a Natural Resource Police officer. And as with all Department of Natural Resources professionals, their success requires a lifelong dedication to new learning.

Two such officers are lieutenants who recently graduated from law enforcement training academies that specialize in advanced leadership skills. Lt. Brent Trautman, who heads the homeland security and investigations units, graduated from the FBI National Academy, a 10-week program that specializes in advanced communication, leadership and fitness training. Lt. Catherine Medellin, who commands the southern Maryland patrol area, was one of 36 conservation officers nationwide to receive diplomas from National Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy.

In September I had the honor of addressing the unit’s promotion ceremony, where a new generation of department leaders stepped-up to take their charge. As I told them – as I will tell our newest graduates Nov. 3 – we need leaders who are resourceful and nimble to meet whatever comes their way, who take challenges head-on and have the courage to try new approaches. But most of all, we need leaders and officers who bring passion to their work, who inspire their colleagues, who give the public confidence in the the department and its police force.

I look forward to working with our officers – in my capacity to enforce all natural resource laws of the state – and their dedication, enthusiasm and experience to ensure the next 150 years are even better!