NRP graduates

New graduates join the Maryland Natural Resources Police ranks.

The ranks of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police grew by 44 officers —the largest increase in manpower in 13 years — in recent graduation ceremonies. The additions come as the state’s conservation law enforcement agency celebrates its 150th anniversary, a press release states.

Thirty-two recruits took the oath of office Nov. 3 and received their badges from Natural Resources Police Superintendent Col. Robert K. “Ken” Ziegler Jr. The new officers received seven months of training at the agency’s live-in academy, based at the Maryland Police and Corrections facility in Sykesville.

Among the 32 new officers are Janice Lopez of Lusby and Luke Santerre of Port Republic.

“The sustainability of Maryland’s natural resources is ‘job one’ for all of us,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton told the graduates, as quoted in the release. “We need managers to set goals and scientists to inform our decisions and policies. It falls upon the men and women of the Natural Resources Police to enforce those decisions so that future generations have the same valuable outdoor experiences we enjoy.”

The keynote address was given by FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson, a Frederick native who supervises the Baltimore field office.

The new officers have been assigned to patrol districts across the state and will complete their formal police training in the field under the supervision of experienced officers. The Maryland Natural Resources Police has the same jurisdiction and authority as Maryland State Police, and also enforces fish, game and boating laws, and is the state’s lead agency for maritime homeland security around bridges, power plants and the Port of Baltimore.

Natural Resources Police also welcomed 12 officers who transferred from other law enforcement agencies in a Oct. 26 ceremony at the Maryland Police and Corrections facility in Sykesville.