News Releases

FWC dedicates 33 new officers to conservation efforts

News Release

Monday, May 17, 2010

Media contact: Katie Fojtik, 850-459-6585

The 33 new officers who make up the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) most recent graduating class are a diverse bunch. But, however unique their backgrounds, they share a common goal.

When the 14th FWC law enforcement class graduated Friday at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Tallahassee in front of more than 350 guests, they pledged their effort to the state of Florida and to protecting its unique and valuable natural resources.

While 18 of the graduates are native Floridians, 13 are from other states; 16 have four-year-college degrees; 14 are married or engaged; and nine have children.

Before joining the FWC academy, they were Marines, teachers, lifeguards, pilots, scuba instructors and professional athletes. One had previous law enforcement experience.

"The group is diverse," said Lt. Col. Bruce Buckson, head of the FWC's training section. "But they all want the same thing. They love working outdoors and have a passion for protecting our natural resources."

The individuals came together six months ago, when they began extensive training that included accuracy with firearms, vessel operation, defensive tactics, all-terrain-vehicle operation, BUI/DUI identification and a comprehensive study of all Florida laws as well as federal wildlife and fisheries laws.

The class also assisted in a missing-person case in Leon County. The recruits traveled to a Georgia landfill, where they donned hazmat suits and picked through trash to help find evidence for the case.

The 33 individuals will now join a special group as they face the challenging and rewarding path ahead.  As FWC officers, they will patrol Florida's lands - almost 54,000 square miles of it - and Florida's nearly 6,000 square miles of water. These officers will be protecting the "Fishing Capital of the World" and one of the largest public hunting systems in the country. In addition to enforcing all state laws, FWC officers are authorized to enforce federal fisheries and wildlife laws.

The graduates will now spend three months in their assigned county with a field-training officer as follows:

Tyler Akos - Collier
Jesse Alford - Glades
Brian Barringer - Collier
Joshua Bembry - Taylor
Michael Bibeau - Collier
Bernard Bresie - Indian River
Luke Davenport - Hernando
Ted Davis - Collier
Antonio Dominguez - Dade
Gabriel Fernandez - Dade
Ammon Fisher - Manatee
William Freemon - Manatee
James Gay Jr. - Okeechobee
Michael Haney - Collier
James Holcomb - Wakulla
Bryan Loureiro - Dade
Brent McCarthy - Monroe
James Payne - St. Lucie
Jason Richards - Monroe
Chris Rutherford - Monroe
John Santerfeit - Glades
Robert Scholl - Dade
Timothy Shearer - Nassau
Heidi Simons - St. Lucie
Ryan Smith - Hillsborough
Scott Smith - Pasco
Robert Spanier - Palm Beach
Chris Thurkettle - Collier
Raymond Vegter - Brevard
Aja Vickers - Monroe
Glen Way - Monroe
Kelsea Wiernicki - Martin
Kathryn Wright - Palm Beach

FWC Facts:
Manatees, like their relatives - elephants, hyraxes and aardvarks - have a long gestation period and can regrow their teeth.

Learn More at AskFWC