It’s well known in Jackie Glaser’s home that mom has a gun. More than one, in fact. ¶ But as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer (CO), she knows when it’s appropriate to strap on her sidearm. And when it’s better to leave her .40-caliber Glock locked away. ¶ “A conservation officer’s job is flexible,’’ Glaser said. “So if one of my kids is going on a field trip or has a hockey game, and I want to go, I can come home, change out of my uniform, go to the field trip or game, then come home again, change back into my uniform and head back on patrol.’’ ¶ Glaser, who is an acting CO supervisor in the west metro, in addition to her regular conservation officer duties, is one of about 17 women officers out of a statewide force of more than 200. She would like more women to patrol the state’s woods, waters and fields. But in some cases, the job can be a hard sell.
“Part of it is getting the word out to women, to assure them that, yes, they can do this job,’’ Glaser said. “But in many ways it’s a demanding job, and not one in which you work 8 to 4 every day. So if that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t it.
“Also, if you’re not comfortable working alone, say checking hunters at night, you might not like this type of work.’’
A St. Cloud State University graduate, with a degree in criminal justice, and with a law enforcement certificate from a community college, Glaser has been a DNR conservation officer for 13 years.
In addition to her supervisory duties, and her qualification as a background investigator of prospective COs, she’s one of two officers charged with patrolling Lake Minnetonka, on which she makes more BWI — boating while intoxicated — arrests than any other conservation officer in the state.
“That’s not the most common violation I encounter — that would be not having a hunting or fishing license,’’ she said. “But boating while intoxicated is huge. On a summer Saturday afternoon on Lake Minnetonka, there might be a couple hundred boats hooked together, with a lot of drinking going on.
“If they’re anchored, drivers of the boats can drink as much as they want. But about dinnertime or right before sunset, too many of them want to get off the water. It’s then, if I suspect someone has had too much to drink, I make the stop.
“I give four field sobriety tests. If they flunk, I arrest them, put a life jacket on them and take them to the sheriff’s station.’’
Story of a career
Lisa Kruse has been a conservation officer 15 years and is assigned to the north metro. Like Glaser, she grew up loving the outdoors, and had family members who hunted and fished.
“My degree is in natural resources and environmental protection,’’ Kruse said. “While in college, I did an internship with the DNR fisheries section, and during that time I met three conservation officers who said they absolutely loved their jobs. So I looked into it.’’
At the time, the law enforcement certificate program at Alexandria (Minn.) Technical and Community College required two years to complete.
“I said, ‘two years?’ I’ve already got a bachelor’s degree, and I’m broke,’’ Kruse said. “That’s when they started the one-year program that is a better fit for people who already have college degrees.’’
Qualified CO applicants take a written test, as well as medical, psychological and physical-agility exams. There’s also a personal interview and a background investigation. Finalists are invited to attend a three-month-long “academy’’ at Camp Ripley, near Brainerd, at which fish and game laws, identification and related subjects are taught.
“There were three women in my academy of 12, and two of us made it through,’’ Kruse said.
Field training with a veteran CO follows academy graduation, and takes four months. Then the new officers are placed in stations statewide.