CENTER VALLEY, Pa — What profession can take you from land to sea while giving you a daily choice to ride ATVs, bikes, and in cars and boats?
Two members of the Delaware Natural Resource Police, who enjoy these “perks” (as they described it) spoke to a room of nearly 50 students, faculty and staff as part of a lecture series introduced by Penn State Lehigh Valley Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Deb Dreisbach.
“As a resource officer, people often think we’re dealing with a plot of land with a park in the middle of it,” said the main presenter and K-9 officer, Cpl. Trevor Ditmore. “But our massive coverage areas actually include restaurants, bars, marinas, a zoo and water park — even a football stadium. And the issues we deal [with] are just as broad — ranging from domestics and drugs to fish and wildlife on- and off-shore.”
Ditmore went on to share accounts of missing persons, a kidnapping, a plane forced to make an emergency landing in the water, as well as washed up whales and how they are pushed back to their natural habitat or buried on the beach.
“Unfortunately, we also deal with our fair share of suicides, especially after COVID,” Ditmore said. “There are also plenty of break-ins, especially when people leave their valuables in plain view in their car. But in between those calls, you can decide to take the ATV out, patrol on bike, enjoying the beautiful trails, or boat out to check for issues ranging from DUI's to illegal crabbing.”
Ditmore even talked about rescuing a turkey buzzard trapped in a grease trap at a restaurant on the grounds.
Officer Taylor Pechin, also from the DNRP, spoke to the realities of working in a predominantly male-dominated role and shared information on the pay scale for seasonal workers and interns. She hires 30-40 every year and echoed Ditmore’s message that it’s a great job.
Ditmore also told students that the seasonal position is a smart way to figure out if they really want to be a cop. “In this part-time role, you’ll help full-time officers with complaints, but you’ll also have the opportunity to go out on your own to patrol,” he said. “As an intern, you cannot arrest anyone, but you are authorized to issue written warnings.”
He went on to explain that there’s also a ‘scientific’ side to the job. “Sometimes we have to call in specialists to deal with spills, dumping, sewage complaints and much more. And with multiple golf courses and country clubs, we’re also covering Greek life activities, cross-country meets, sporting events and even a beer festival.”
“It’s a lot of work, but it offers a great deal of variety and opportunities for overtime,” he said. “As a group, we also get involved in a lot of important charitable events.”
Students were encouraged to take the officers’ information and apply for seasonal roles with the DNRP before April 2023.
“If you like it and perform well,” said Ditmore, “you can come back year after year.”