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July 25, 2001


For more information contact:
Rob Winkel at 609-292-9430

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Law Enforcement announced the graduation of 10 new conservation officers from two state-accredited police academies in Morris and Burlington counties last month. The individuals were required to complete the mandatory 22-week Police Training Commission Course, which began in January.

Upon graduation from the Morris County Police Academy, Officers Frank Panico, Shannon Martiak, Douglas Applegate, Adam Sennick and Steve Losey have been assigned to the Northern Region and will fill vacancies that were created by several retirements and promotions. At the graduation ceremony Officer Applegate, a resident of Piscataway, was honored with an award for achieving the second highest academic average in the class which consisted of 52 officers from various police departments in the region.

Graduating from the Burlington County Police Academy, Officers Tracy Stites and Zane Batten have been assigned to the Southern Region, Officers Jean Mutone and Jason Snellbaker have been assigned to the Marine Region, and Officer Thomas O'Rourke will patrol the Central Region. The graduating class consisted of 25 officers from various police departments in the southern region. At the ceremony Officer Stites, a resident of Alloway, was honored with the Top Gun Award for marksmanship and the Professionalism Award given by academy staff. Officer O'Rourke, a resident of Allentown, received the second place Director's Achievement Award for overall average which included physical training, firearms and academics, and the second place award for physical training. Officer Batten, a resident of Bridgeton, received an award for being third in the firearms phase of the training.

Last October, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Law Enforcement provisionally appointed the 10 full-time conservation officers to bring the number of field officers, which had suffered due to several retirements and position vacancies, closer to full capacity.

After having successfully completed a rigorous interview process and screening, the individuals attended the Bureau's six week in-service training academy where they received classes in arrest, search and seizure, defense tactics, fish and wildlife law enforcement statutes, court room testimony and other related topics. In addition, they completed a mandatory 40-hour firearm qualification course for both handgun and shotgun.

After graduation from the bureau academy, each officer was assigned a certified field training officer for several weeks of instruction afield prior to attending the Police Academy. After the Police Academy, the conservation officers again reported to their respective field training officer and must now complete a one-year probationary period.

All conservation officers must possess the minimum requirement of a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology or related science with 18 credits in environmental science, plus one year's experience in law enforcement, wildlife or environmental science. Division conservation officers possess full police powers within the State of New Jersey.