Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR assistant enforcement division director and 19-year veteran of the department, will be the agency’s new enforcement chief.

Smith, 44, will oversee a $38 million annual budget and a staff of 250, including more than 200 conservation officers. The division enforces game, fish, lands, water and recreation laws, among others.

Smith began as a conservation officer in 1997, patrolling central and northern Minnesota. Subsequently he was promoted to district supervisor, regional enforcement director and operations manager. In 2011 he became assistant director, overseeing budgeting and policy, and serving as legislative liaison.

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and speech communication from St. Cloud State University and a master’s in public administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Smith is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, the Harvard Kennedy School of Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies program and the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy.

“Rodmen brings a wealth of on-the-job knowledge and experience to the position, and understands first-hand the challenges facing natural resources law enforcement,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “I’m looking forward to working with Rodmen to enhance the division’s communications and public outreach and accelerate our efforts to diversify the department and solidify our reputation as a top-shelf natural resources agency.”

Said Smith:

“I see three immediate priorities for the division. We need to continue to improve our service to Minnesota citizens. We need to recruit and hire new officers who not only exceed our high standards, but more accurately reflect the diverse community we serve. And we need to continue to provide field staff with the best training and tools to do their job safely, effectively and efficiently.”

Smith assumes the position immediately, replacing Col. Ken Soring, who retired in December after more than 35 years with the DNR.

Smith and his wife Kimberly have two daughters: Kenley (11), Gracie (7) and a yellow lab named Finn.