The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has added 12 new Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers to its team due to a new collaboration with Honolulu Community College.
Among them are Kelly Woods, a former wildlife rescuer, and Edward Thompson, formerly an emergency medical technician.
Both were among the first cohort of officers to graduate in July from the newly established Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Academy, which combines coursework from HCC with hands- on training designed for those with no background in law enforcement.
Both are now actively on the job. Woods is assigned to the west side of Hawaii island, and Thompson to the east side of Oahu.
“The partnership with and the expertise that HonCC brings to the table is invaluable and actually expedites our ability to bring highly-trained officers on board when we have openings in our ranks,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said in a news release. “In addition to successfully passing their academic course work, the officers met rigorous qualifications, passed extensive background checks and physical requirements, and had in-depth personal interviews. We are confident these 12 rookie officers are great additions to our ranks and will serve the people of Hawaii with distinction, compassion, and fairness.”
The DOCARE Training Academy, the brainchild of former chief Robert Farrell, was established last year to produce workforce-ready officers. The training involves 1,160 hours of classroom and field training over 7-1/2 months.
“Due to this innovative training collaboration between noncredit and credit, recruits completed more than half of the required coursework they would need to earn an (administration of justice) degree,” said HCC Dean Keala Chock in the release. “Several of the new officers with previous credits earned are now uniquely positioned within the (administration of justice) pathway and have the opportunity to earn a degree with the completion of 27 additional credits (available online).”
Woods, one of six female DOCARE officers on the force, recently conducted a fishing boat inspection and warned snorkelers and kayakers to stop pursuing spinner dolphins.
“We enforce the laws, but one of our major roles is to inform and educate first.” she said. “Hawaii has a unique plethora of laws and rules that apply to the protection of natural and cultural resources, and we were schooled heavily on the application of Hawaii’s rules and regulations from experts. Having the rigor of Honolulu CC’s justice training program gave us the depth and breadth of knowledge we need to be successful DOCARE officers.”
Fellow DOCARE Academy graduate Thompson has helped stop illegal fishing in the Waikiki Fisheries Management Area and educated visitors about fishing rules.
“It was a good collaboration with HCC to receive college credits for their Administration of Justice program,” said Thompson, also a Kamehameha Schools graduate with a college degree in Hawaiian studies. “It helped us to better understand the criminal justice system, the process and how laws are passed and the different rules and why things are done the way they are.”
Call DOCARE at 587-0066 or visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/ docare to learn more.