Training Requirements for Refuge's Federal Wildlife Officers


Subject: Training Requirements for Refuge’s Federal Wildlife Officers

Sec. 1 What is the purpose of this Order? This Order establishes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) training requirements for new and returning Federal Wildlife Officers (FWO) in the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), until the NWRS Division of Refuge Law Enforcement (DRLE) revises the existing refuge training policy in the Service Manual.

Sec. 2 Does this Order amend or supersede any other guidance? This Order supersedes section 2.6 in 232 FW 2, Law Enforcement Training, and section 5b of Director’s Order 155 (expired in 2019).

Sec. 3 What is the scope of this Order? This Order applies to those entering into, or returning to, the NWRS LE program as FWOs.

Sec. 4 What is the authority for this Order? The authority for this Order is 446 Departmental Manual (DM) 2, Law Enforcement – Personnel Qualifications and Standards.

Sec. 5 What is the required training for FWOs?

     a.The NWRS Law Enforcement Training Academy: DRLE manages the NWRS Law Enforcement Training Academy (Academy). The Academy is comprised of all the training required to become a commissioned FWO. The Academy consists of four phases:

     ·  Phase 1 – Pre-Land Management Police Training Orientation (Pre-LMPT),

     ·  Phase 2 – Land Management Police Training (LMPT) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC),

     ·  Phase 3 – Federal Wildlife Officer Basic Training (FWOBT), and

     ·  Phase 4 – RLE Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTEP).

     b.In-service training: FWOs must complete 40 hours of LE refresher training annually (see 446 DM 2). The Regions are responsible for providing in-service training that the Chief - Branch of Training has approved.

Sec. 6 What is the overall requirement for completing the Academy? The Academy requires the successful completion of each phase of training in the established sequence. Each phase is complementary and the sequence of training cannot be circumvented.

Sec. 7 What do selecting officials and Human Resources Specialists need to know to recruit FWOs? Human Resources Specialists must include the following conditions of employment in FWO vacancy announcements, and only extend a tentative offer of employment until all conditions are successfully completed.

     a.Pre-placement Medical Clearance (242 FW 4): Trainees must pass their pre-placement medical clearance and drug testing.

     b.Physical Efficiency Battery:  Trainees must pass the FLETC physical efficiency battery at the minimum 25 percentile prior to appointment to an LE position. This includes trainees who previously completed LMPT or equivalent courses at FLETC. Trainees must successfully pass their pre-placement medical clearance prior to attempting the physical efficiency battery.

     c.Psychological Screening: Trainees must favorably complete a Service-initiated psychological screening evaluation.

     d.Lautenberg Certification (Domestic Violence Disclosure): Trainees must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (see 442 FW 5).

     e.Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid Certification:  Transferees from other agencies must provide documentation of current CPR and First Aid certification. LMPT trainees receive CPR and First Aid certification training.

     f. Position Sensitivity and Investigations: The person must pass a background Investigation (BI). See section 8.c below for information about waivers.  

Sec. 8 What conditions have to be met before an FWO can enter the Academy? Trainees must not enter the Academy until:

     a.The trainee has successfully completed the conditions in section 7 except for 7.e.

     b.The Chief, Branch of Training, has approved the Application for Law Enforcement Authority (AEA), FWS Form 3-2016, with all supporting documents, including the certifications listed in section 7.

     c.There are some conditions under which a potential trainee may receive a waiver from the background investigation. See Director’s Order 213, dated December 11, 2015.

Sec. 9 What are the requirements and limitations for trainees conducting LE activities?

     a.Trainees are credentialed FWOs when they have successfully completed the LMPT and are authorized to carry firearms, execute and serve warrants, search, seize, make arrests, and perform such duties as are authorized by law. 

     (1) However, they must not perform independent LE duties or serve as the lead officer (except during FTEP) until they have successfully completed the Academy.

     (2) Independent LE activities include, or are likely to include, making contact with the public (e.g., hunter checks for compliance, interviews, etc.). Independent LE activities do not include office work, travel, training, or other refuge management-related functions that are administrative or operational in nature, and where public contact that is related to LE is unlikely.

     b.Full enforcement authority is conveyed to the FWO after successfully completing the Academy and the Application for Law Enforcement Authority (AEA) and only by the Chief of DRLE. This delegation of enforcement authority is derived from the Secretary of the Interior; through the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; through the Director; through the Chief of the NWRS to the Chief of DRLE (see 50 CFR 28.21 and 036 FW 1). 

     c.Trainees must qualify on RLE courses of fire before entering into the FTEP (see 442 FW 1).

     d.Trainees may not fly armed on commercial carriers during any phase of the Academy unless accompanied by their designated Field Training Officer.

Sec. 10 What are the requirements for trainees transferring from other Federal agencies?

     a.If the transferee has successfully completed LMPT or an equivalent, they must successfully complete FWOBT and the FTEP.

     b.If the transferee has not attended LMPT or an equivalent (e.g., Natural Resource Police Training), they must successfully complete all the phases of the Academy or apply for a training waiver. A training waiver will only be considered for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Academy if their previous training at FLETC meets or exceeds the requirements in the LMPT. Route requests for waivers through:

     (1) The Regional LE Chief,

     (2) The Chief, Branch of Training, and

     (3) Then to the Chief, DRLE for final approval.

Sec. 11 What are the requirements for individuals who previously held a RLE commission and want to be reinstated?

     a.It’s been less than 2 years since the person held an RLE commission:  The individual must successfully complete the next available in-service training and meet current Service standards in section 7 of this Order before being reinstated.

     b.It’s been between 2 and 4 years since the person held an RLE commission: The individual must successfully complete the FWOBT phase of the Academy and meet current Service standards in section 7 of this Order.

     c.It’s been more than 4 years since the person held an RLE commission: 

     (1) If the individual continuously held a Federal LE commission, the individual must successfully complete the FWOBT phase of the Academy and meet current Service standards in section 7 of this Order.

     (2) If the individual did not continuously hold a Federal LE commission, they individual must successfully complete the entire Academy.

Sec. 12 What are the requirements for individuals participating in the dual-function, seasonal, and student programs?

     a.Dual-function, seasonal, and full-time FWOs are subject to the same training requirements.

     b.Dual-function and seasonal FWO trainees must have a favorably adjudicated SSBI before beginning the Academy.

     c.Dual-function FWOs must serve in GS-0485 or GS-0025 positions, at the GS-11 grade or lower to be approved for training. The only FWOs we may exempt from this requirement are those who have aircraft pilot duties. Seasonal FWO trainees must serve in the GL-1801 series.

     d.Students who participate in the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and similar programs may not begin the Academy until they are converted into permanent positions (GL-1801, GS-0485, or GS-0025 series) and meet current Service standards in section 7 of this Order.

Sec. 13 When is this Order effective? This Order is effective immediately. It remains in effect until incorporated into the Service Manual or until amended, superseded, or revoked, whichever comes first. If not incorporated into the Service Manual, the Order will expire 18 months from the date of signature. 

/sgd/ Bryan Arroyo


Date: August 6, 2012, as amended December 11, 2015, also amended by Decision Memorandum, "Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns," 6/22/2022