AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department graduated the 62nd Texas game warden and state park police officer cadet class July 30 at the Texas State Capitol. The class included 23 game wardens and seven state park police officers.
Following their seven month preparation at the TPWD Game Warden Training Center in Hamilton County, the newly-commissioned state peace officers were recognized during a special ceremony that included a keynote speaker, oath of office and commissioning by senior-level department staff and TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.
“We, the State of Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, along with the people in the communities in which you will live and work and serve and raise your families, will expect you to be pillars of strength and leadership, resolute in character and virtue, fair beyond reproach, and unfailing in response in times of disaster and duress,” said Smith. “When you are called for help, day or night, weekday or weekend, irrespective of the need or the cause or the caller for help, you will go and you will go dutifully.”
The graduates will begin their new careers stationed in counties and state parks throughout the state.
The 62nd cadet class brings a unique and diverse collection of skillsets and accomplishments; among their ranks include a licensed attorney, a high school science teacher, a former SWAT team commander, a Gold Gloves boxing champ, and a seasoned marathon runner with more than 30 races under his belt, including a pair of 50-mile events. Several in the class are military veterans, including a U.S. Marine who served on MP Squadron One, the president’s Marine One detail, and a 20-year U.S. Army special ops veteran with more than 120 static line airplane jumps on his resume. One cadet hails from California, while another is from Rhode Island, but the bulk of the class are homegrown Texans.
The duties of a Texas game warden include the enforcement of all state laws with primary emphasis on hunting, fishing and water safety regulations. As fully commissioned state peace officers, they respond to all types of emergency situations, assist other law enforcement agencies and work to educate the public about conservation issues.
“Looking back 26 years ago, becoming a Texas game warden was like a dream come true,” recalled Texas Game Warden Col. Grahame Jones, TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director. “I commend these newly commissioned game wardens for their hard work and dedication as they realize their dream and embark on a mission to protect our valuable and fragile natural resources and fellow citizens of Texas.”
State park police, also commissioned state peace officers, provide law enforcement services to the visitors and users of state parks and help enforce laws within their local jurisdictions.
“These new park police officers will be assigned to critical locations around the state where they will be working alongside other law enforcement to serve and protect the citizens of Texas within our state parks, and beyond the borders of our sites,” said Wes Masur, Chief of State Park Police with TPWD. “This class marks our fourth group of officers who have trained alongside our partner game wardens as a cohesive law enforcement unit, and I look forward to working with these dedicated individuals.”
All graduates met the state-mandated requirements for peace officer certification, including criminal and constitutional law, firearms, self-defense, use of force, defensive driving, arrest, search and seizure, ethics and first aid.
The 62nd cadet class joins a force of more than 500 game wardens and 160 park police officers in the field to help enforce TPWD regulations and carry the department’s high standards to every corner of the state.