The Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas welcomed the 60th graduating game warden cadet class in early August. The graduating class was comprised of five state park police officers and 41 game warden cadets.
Cadets from both academies were put through seven months of intense training to prepare them for their new careers in law enforcement. The two academies merged together in 2015 and this year marks the second dual graduation. The graduates were trained in all law enforcement duties including criminal law, first aid, self-defense and firearms.
The state of Texas first introduced game wardens in 1895 when the Fish and Oyster Commission was established by the Texas Legislature to regulate fishing. The Game Commission followed in 1907 and in 1923 the State Parks Board was created. The Fish and Game Commissions merged with the State Parks Board in 1963, forming the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
Game wardens primarily enforce fishing, water safety and hunting regulations but are authorized to enforce all state laws. They are also tasked with educating the community about conservation. State park police officers are charged with enforcing local laws within their jurisdictions as well as to state park visitors.
TPWD Executive Director, Carter Smith, spoke to the graduates during the ceremony. He emphasized the importance of protecting the state, its people and its resources. Smith reminded the cadets that they will be looked on by the public as leaders and they must perform their duties with integrity and fairness. “And when you are called for help, day or night, weekday or weekend, irrespective of the need or the cause of the caller for help, you will go, and you will go dutifully,” he said.
The infusion of the new graduates now brings the number of game wardens to 534 and the number of state park police officers to 175.