April 19, 2021
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers are part of Minnesota’s law enforcement community. Their primary responsibility is protecting natural resources and keeping safe the people who use them. From time to time, they are called upon to serve the broader law enforcement and public safety needs of Minnesota. Conservation officers (COs) are licensed peace officers and their overarching mission – like all law enforcement personnel – is protecting public safety.
Currently, some of our COs are working alongside the Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota National Guard to assist local and unified law enforcement agencies as part of Operation Safety Net, the state’s coordinated effort to ensure public safety during and after the Derek Chauvin trial. Following the officer-involved shooting in Brooklyn Center, Operation Safety Net extended to respond to public safety needs in that city and surrounding areas.
Public safety is of the utmost importance –this includes the safety of demonstrators, all residents of the Twin Cities area, and our COs and their law enforcement partners. We support people’s right to exercise their First Amendment rights, and our COs are there to ensure people have the opportunity to do that safely and peacefully.
It is important to note that the state’s General Fund covers the costs of these general public safety responses, such as Operation Safety Net. We do not use funds dedicated to specific natural resources work, such as revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, state park passes, and recreational vehicle registrations, to cover the costs of broader public safety responses.
While some of our officers have been called to support Operation Safety Net, there are COs throughout the state continuing to work in the field to ensure conservation and protection of Minnesota’s natural resources and respond to public safety needs such as search and rescue.
As they are every day, our COs are committed to their core mission of keeping people safe. As part of this mission, they are dedicated to ensuring people have the opportunity to peacefully and safely exercise their First Amendment rights.