Watch the video above: Saskatchewan conservation officers hone skills
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Saskatchewan provincial parks opened last week just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
If you’re heading out to a campsite, you’re likely to come across conservation officers making sure everyone is safe and enjoying the great outdoors.
Global News spent the day with officers in Prince Albert, Sask. to get a closer look at how they train.
Rich Hildebrand has been a conservation officer for 34 years.
“When I first started we basically had no training, to the point where now we do it annually. We bring in new things on a regular basis,” said Hildebrand.
To keep up with the changing industry conservation officers go through annual training to work on defensive tactics, scenarios and potential encounters they may face out in the field.
“On average we have about 45 encounters for all our officers across the province. Myself personally, I’ve never had a situation,” said Hildebrand.
But that’s a different story for Saskatchewan ministry of environment compliance manager Marc Painchaud.
“I’ve had a few incidents so I take my training very seriously,” said Painchaud.
Conservation officers from across the province come to Prince Albert as a part of a provincial standard and while they may not use these skills on a daily basis, there are those rare occasion when training will come in handy.
“Just in the last year we had one officer threatened with an ax. They had to draw their sidearm but it de-escalated at that time,” said Hildebrand.
The officers are trained in both judo and firearms.
“Fortunately most of the people we deal with are very respectful of our job and what we’re doing but unfortunately there are those people that we have to deal with that are resistive and we have to take control of them,” said Painchaud.
This makes the full day of combative tactics and the loud gunfire all worth it for officers.