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Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Recruiting Information

If you have a passion for the outdoors and want to serve your community, a career as a Conservation Police Officer may be right for you.

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Have questions? See Frequently-Asked Questions or contact the Training and Recruiting Section at (804) 367-3443 or

Frequently-Asked Questions

What is the expected salary?

The starting salary for a Conservation Police Officer is $51,000. New hires who are currently certified as a Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Law Enforcement Officer will receive a $2,000 sign-on bonus. After completing the academy, the newly sworn officers will receive a series of pay adjustments based on tenure through the Career Progression Program.

Is there a retirement?

Conservation Police Officers are eligible for Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System (VaLORS) Plan 2. Officers receive unreduced service retirement eligibility Age 60 if you have at least five years (60 months) of service credit, or at age 50 if you have at least 25 years of service credit. CPOs can also participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan and Virginia Cash Match Plan 401(a). For more information on benefits and retirement visit the DHRM website.

Is a current certified law enforcement officer required to complete a full academy?

All newly hired Conservation Police Officers are required to attend the department’s 28-week Basic Training Program in Henrico, Virginia. At this time, there is no scheduled Modified Training Program for current Sworn Law Enforcement Officers.

What is the basic training like?

The Virginia Conservation Police Law Enforcement Basic Training Academy is approximately 28 weeks. Recruit officers are assigned to our Headquarters in Henrico, VA. The Department provides seven-day-a-week lodging at no cost to the recruit officer during their training period and a state vehicle for official use. Recruits are allowed to return home for the weekend, but must return to assigned lodging before the start of the work week. Academy courses are primarily delivered in the DWR headquarters training room in Henrico, Virginia.

Recruit officers can plan to receive structured training during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. There are a few weeks when training is received out of the area and occasional weekends and nights. These off-site training sessions are conducted when field or specialized conditions are required (driver training, firearms, control tactics, tactical tracking, boat school, water survival, etc.).

Most training days begin with an hour of physical exercise before arriving at the training room. These sessions include running, calisthenics, and various other workout regimens. At the beginning of the training day, the recruit officer class assembles into formation, and a training staff member will conduct an inspection and share information regarding the day’s plan.

Will I know prior to applying what counties are open?

No. However, during the hiring process and well in advance of a final offer of employment, applicants will be provided a list of all vacant duty-stations (counties/cities) and asked to rank them in order of preference. They will also be asked to note if they are willing to accept any duty-station within the Commonwealth. If offered the position of Conservation Police Officer, the applicants assigned duty-station will be in the final offer letter.

When will I know my county of assignment, if selected?

If selected for employment, your duty station will be listed on your final offer letter.

What is the residency requirement?

Conservation Police Officers are required to reside either in their county/city of assignment or within 20 air miles from the county/city boundary of their assignment as long as the drive time does not exceed 30 minutes. CPOs must reside in in the Commonwealth of Virginia and maintain a Virginia Driver’s License while employed as a Virginia Conservation Police Officer.

What are the steps in the hiring process?

Application, initial screening, LawFit (physical agility course), written testing, polygraph examination, background investigation, panel interview, medical screening, psychological screening.

What is the work schedule like?

The schedule of a CPO is variable and changes to address seasonal patrol needs. Officers can expect to have off two weekends a month and are given flexibility in their daily schedules, but will be required to work some holidays. This flexibility includes varying start/stop times and working split shifts. District supervisors are responsible for determining the monthly district schedule and work closely with their officers to incorporate day off preferences and coverage needs. The flexibility offered will provide ample time to enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and boating.

Who can I speak with to find out more about a career as a Conservation Police Officer?

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Training and Recruiting Section for more information. We can be reached at or 804-367-3443.