The mission of the DWR Law Enforcement Division’s Office of Professional Standards (O.P.S.) is to utilize best practices in order to provide the highest level of service and preserve public trust. The three essential functions of the O.P.S. are Recruitment, Training, and Internal Affairs.
The Law Enforcement Division of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has a two-part creed regarding professional standards. Virginia Conservation Police Officers and law enforcement staff in our agency are expected to perform their public service with ethical core values. Management is obligated to utilize best practices as their professional benchmark.
- Act with integrity
- Render a high standard of public service
- Perform in a way that promotes trust in our profession
- Treat others impartially with dignity and respect
- Take responsibility for one’s actions
- Create an inclusive, diverse and cohesive team environment to fulfill our agency mission
- Provide both the strategic direction and the necessary tools to be successful
- Follow accepted standards to measure our public service delivery system
- Employ proactive and collaborative efforts to enhance effectiveness and reduce risk
- Communicate and implement change in a positive and constructive manner
The badge of the Virginia Conservation Police Officer represents those who have dedicated their lives to the protection of Virginia’s wildlife and natural resources, as well as promoting a safe environment for anglers, hunters, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. To earn it requires comprehensive training and highly specialized skills, along with a passion for the outdoors and its wildlife.
Conservation Police Officers are fully certified sworn officers through the Department of Criminal Justice Services, with the authority to enforce all of the laws of Virginia. However, due to the unique nature of this law enforcement profession, those who wear it are unlike any other police officer.
Each Conservation Police Officer (CPO) has to perform their public service duties while taking on many different roles. These range from educator and ambassador to outdoor enthusiast; from evidence technician to boat collision reconstructionist; and from crime analyst to wildlife crime detective responsible for managing informants. CPOs also provide public safety and emergency response, sometimes during severe weather conditions, requiring that they put their lives on the line to rescue others.
Their workplace is geographically vast and diverse with modes of transportation that range from four-wheel drive vehicles to various types of boats. When comparing the duties of a CPO to those of a general police officer, one must keep in mind that the difference between these positons becomes the most evident where the pavement ends and fields and forests begin. CPOs frequently conduct foot patrols in remote areas, usually without back up and often under the cover of darkness. In these types of stressful situations, CPOs have an ability to use little more than their communication skills to shield them from wrongdoers as the “Protectors of Virginia’s Wildlife and Natural Resources”.
CPOs must “…maintain calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; demonstrate self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others…” — Conservation Police Officer’s Code of Ethics
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