FWC Press Release - “Determined” is a fitting word to describe the most recent additions to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement.
When the 15th FWC law enforcement class graduated Wednesday at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Tallahassee in front of friends, family and fellow law enforcement officials, they pledged their efforts to the state of Florida and to protecting its unique and valuable natural resources.
Officer David O’Regan, the speaker for Class 15, spoke of the hard work the class went through and how they had become a family during their training.
Although all FWC officers can be considered determined individuals, dedicated to protecting Florida’s people and natural resources, these individuals went through a few different steps to reach their goals and get to this point. Most FWC officers are hired upon selection and then paid a salary during a six-month academy. These officers were not.
The beginning part of each FWC academy teaches recruits basic law enforcement details and skills. The final eight weeks of each academy session constitute the “breakout” session; this is when recruits learn the unique information and skills needed to be an FWC officer.
All of Wednesday’s graduates were law enforcement certified prior to being hired on for FWC’s “breakout” session. Each had attended a basic recruit academy elsewhere; most even paid their own way to get certified. Together, they represent 75 years of combined law enforcement and corrections experience.
“This is the first time FWC has run a ‘breakout’ class made up entirely of fully certified individuals,” said Maj. Mark Warren, head of the FWC’s Training Section. “We are very pleased with the dedication and enthusiasm that these graduates are already displaying for the job.”
Out of 786 applicants, only 20 were selected to begin the class, and just 15 made it through the intensive training and physical demands to graduate and become the newest FWC officers. The training included accuracy with firearms, wildlife identification, vessel operation, defensive tactics, all-terrain vehicle operation, BUI/DUI detection and a focus on state and federal wildlife and fisheries laws.
One of the graduates was previously an FWC reserve officer, and five have applied more than once to the FWC. They range in age from 22 to 54.
The 15 diverse individuals will now join a special group as they face the challenging and rewarding path ahead.
As FWC officers, they will patrol Florida’s lands, covering almost 54,000 square miles, as well as nearly 2,300 miles of tidal shoreline and 3 million square miles of freshwater lakes. These officers will be protecting the “Fishing Capital of the World” and one of the largest public hunting systems in the country. In addition to enforcing all state laws, FWC officers are authorized to enforce federal fisheries and wildlife laws.
The graduates will spend the next three months with a field-training officer and are assigned as follows:
Matthew Cushing - Broward Arthur Morrow – Lee
Nathaniel Douglas - Collier Jeremy Munkelt - Brevard
Donald Dougan – Polk David O’Regan - Broward
Maxwell Edson – Charlotte Bryce Phillippi - Lee
James Futch – Collier Casey Phillips - Citrus
Marc Ingellis – Dade Ruel Raker - Franklin
Jason Lipford - Okeechobee Steven Stasko – Brevard
Nathanael Martir-Negron – Miami-Dade