The Training and Development Unit is staffed with experienced special agents, wildlife inspectors, training staff and instructors from the OLE who are dedicated to sharing their experience, skills and knowledge to new agents and inspectors and to promote the training of others around the world to combat wildlife trafficking. TDU has 10 permanent staff to conduct and support nearly 150 training events annually. The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) manages TDU and has oversight of basic, advanced, and international training for OLE. The program analysist provides supervision, administrative and budget support to all training programs. One Senior Special Agent and one Senior Wildlife Inspector provide program management to the OLE basic training programs. Another Senior Special Agent provides advanced law enforcement program management. Two Senior Special Agents provide use of force and FLETC detailed instructor training. We plan, coordinate, and conduct these trainings using trained instructors and experienced agents, inspectors, and other subject matter experts. We develop and conduct training based on the needs of officers in the field. We are responsive to needs identified by field and we also conduct curriculum reviews to ensure both the curriculum and the training remain current and relevant to best meet the needs of those attending these programs.
The mission of TDU is to prepare, train and unite conservation law enforcement professionals from around the world to take on the global fight to protect wildlife and combat wildlife trafficking. We do this through training our own special agents, wildlife inspectors and conservations officers and when requested, also sharing knowledge and skills through training to our state, federal and tribal partners here in the United States and globally to our international conservation partners in other regions of the world.
In 1970, the Service entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to establish formal consolidated training called the National Criminal Investigator School (now the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) in Washington D.C. In 1972, U.S. Game Management Agents (now Special Agents) began attending a new course, Special Agent Basic School (SABS). The SABS is a 41-day training program providing basic wildlife crime investigation skills. The Training and Development Unit (TDU), which was known as the Branch of Training and Inspection (BTI) until March of 2022, was formalized in 1975 with the move to the Naval Air Station in Glynco, Georgia. FLETC is located on the east coast of Georgia near Brunswick and Saint Simons Island and is large enough to have its own zip code. It has become the nation’s largest interagency law enforcement training center, servicing nearly 100 Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies. FLETC, a Department of Homeland Security agency is responsible for funding and providing basic and advanced law enforcement training to almost all federal agencies and advanced training to State and Local governments. FLETC graduates between 40,000 and 60,000 students annually. Since 1975, the TDU has been responsible for providing new special agents basic training in the CITP and SABS. To date, TDU has graduated 34 SABS classes. In 1982, TDU began formal training of Wildlife Inspectors. The Wildlife Inspector Basic School (WIBS) is a 40-day training program that provides basic training to newly hired wildlife inspectors. Wildlife Inspectors are stationed at ports of entry to facilitate the legal trade of wildlife and are on the front line for the interdiction of illegal wildlife. TDU has graduated 24 WIBS classes. Along with the three basic programs, CITP, SABS and WIBS, TDU administers the Field Training & Evaluation Program (FTEP). The special agent FTEP is approximately 44 weeks long and the wildlife inspector FTEP is 10 weeks. These two FTEPs provide field training to our new agents and inspectors. This “hands on” field experience occurs under the guidance of an experience peer, allowing the agent or inspector to be a fully independent when they successfully graduate at the end of these programs.