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New law empowers conservation officers

A new law has taken immediate effect to empower conservation officers with the same law enforcement capabilities as a state police trooper or county deputy. officer.

Bill sponsor, Democratic Senator John Cherry said conservation officers have always received the same training as peace officers, the new law will ensure they have the same powers.

“I had been an employee at the DNR,” he said. “So, I worked with a lot of conservation officers and when the issue was brought to my attention … I stepped up to try to address it.”

Officials said conservation officers have sometimes been the only law enforcement available to respond to an emergency, but before this law, they lacked the authority to take individuals into protective custody.

Now, conservation officers can take distressed individuals into protective temporary custody or require them to complete a mental health evaluation.

Cherry said there have been many cases in Belle Isle where individuals have tried to take their life and conservation officers had to wait on outside police agencies to handle the situation.

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety, conservation officers explained other law enforcement agencies may not arrive in time. Even if they do, they may not witness the same behaviors as the conservation officer had.

The law was passed with immediate effect after being approved by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on July 18.

“I hope that people are able to just efficiently get the help that they need,” Cherry said.

According to Michigan Legislature, there is no fiscal impact with the new law on state or local government.