Newly Trained Law Enforcement Officers Guard Natural Treasures

The Takeaway: Graduates of a new academy, supported by NOAA Corals, enforce environmental and resource laws.

Hawaii’s rich environment for protected species is a challenging environment for enforcing conservation laws. Many of the state’s 329 threatened and endangered species are found nowhere else on earth. Six experienced police officers became the first graduates of a new academy providing specialized training in forestry and wildlife, boating rules, marine mammals, and many other coast-related concerns. Support from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program helped make it happen.

The Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Academy (DOCARE) gives these graduates all the enforcement authority of county police officers or other law enforcement agencies. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources operates the academy.

“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,” says Suzanne Case, chair of the department.

These conservation officers are well-versed in procedures of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Native Hawaiian Law, the state environmental court, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife rules and regulations.

Within the year, a larger conservation academy will open for recruits who do not have previous police experience. The Coral Reef Conservation Program, and other partners, support the academy’s curriculum development and training. (2019)

More Information: Academy

Partners: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program