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SALEMBURG, N.C. (Aug. 10) - Recruits from across North Carolina snapped to attention at a graduation ceremony that marked the culmination of 19 weeks - over 800 hours - of rigorous and intensive training at the N.C. Wildlife Enforcement Officer Academy.

By the time they returned to their seats, the nine men and one woman were sworn officers, charged with enforcing the fish, game and boating laws and regulations of the state. The Class of 2006 will now undertake six months of on-the-job training under the watchful eye of a field training officer. Once field training is completed, they will receive their first duty station assignment and join ranks with the 210 enforcement officers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Judge Linda Stevens administered the oath of office on July 20 at the North Carolina Justice Academy, where much of the training took place, and swore in the graduates who will now report to locations throughout the state for their training assignments.

The officers and their hometowns:
William Curtis Cain III, Bladenboro
Dustin Allen Durham, Burlington
Nathaniel Patrick Green, Bostic
Matthew Wayne Long, Lexington
Tyson Donovan Phillips, Candler
David Gerald Ritzheimer, Norwood
Jennifer Ann Stein, Wake Forest
James Michael Strider, Mount Gilead
Brian Lee White, Windsor
Clarence Poe White III, Bladenboro

"You are about to begin a career where you will deal with the greatest people in the world, this state's sportsmen," Col. Kenneth Everhart, commander of the enforcement division, told the graduates in the final charge of office. "Take the pride you have in completing this training with you into your career."

William Curtis Cain III of Bladenboro was the class superlative, with a grade point average of 95.7. Matthew Wayne Long of Lexington earned the Top Gun award for a 99.2 percent average of written test and all qualification scores combined.

Recruits undergo a demanding basic training that includes instruction in classrooms, on the firing range, in the field, on the water and on a specialized pursuit driving course. Defensive tactics, investigation and communications skills must be mastered and a thorough knowledge of natural resources, including fish and game species, is required.

Applications for the 2007 Wildlife Officer basic training school are being accepted by the Wildlife Resources Commission, with more information available online at www.ncwildlife.org or by calling (919) 707-0101. There are no requirements to have any previous law enforcement certification prior to applying. Recruit candidates must be at least 21 years of age and are screened for mental, physical (including swimming) capabilities and meet other standards.

Typically, recruits are selected from several hundred applicants.
 

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