First class of conservation enforcement officers graduates

Two of the six will work Maui County

The new graduates of the first-ever Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Academy pose outside of Iolani Palace following their graduation ceremony Friday. DAN DENNISON photo

The Maui News

Six law enforcement officers graduated from the first-ever class at the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Academy in Honolulu on Friday.

The officers, who come from municipal, state or federal police agencies, received immersive training in conservation enforcement over the course of six weeks, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which oversees DOCARE.

Of the six graduates, two will work in Maui County. Graduate Brandon Ignacio has been assigned to Molokai, while Marcus Figgaroa has been assigned to Maui. The other four graduates — Kaulana Noa, Kaea Sugata, Irwin Keliipuleole and Brandon McBride — have been assigned to Oahu.

“We are proud and excited to have these six officers join DOCARE’s ranks,” department Chairwoman Suzanne Case said in a statement. “We felt there was a critical need for DOCARE to establish its own training academy since conservation officers have to be well versed not only in basic law enforcement but in protection and enforcement of a myriad of environmental and resources law.”

The first DOCARE Training Academy was for officers with previous law enforcement work experience. A larger academy for recruits without previous police experience is scheduled for the upcoming spring. Recruits without experience will learn conservation enforcement and undergo the kind of basic training required of all police officers.

“DOCARE officers have all of the enforcement authority of officers working for county police departments and other law enforcement agencies,” acting DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla explained. “Given the huge volume of natural and cultural resources law and administrative rules they also need to have knowledge about, we felt it was critical to establish specialized training for the men and women who protect our resources.”

Training for DOCARE officers covers a wide range of issues, including forestry and wildlife rules, firearms training, mammals and protected species, hunter education, fish identification, Native Hawaiian law, small-boat operation, environmental court and first aid and CPR.