What we do
FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for protecting Florida’s natural resources, including fish, wildlife and the environment, while providing a safe atmosphere for residents and visitors to recreate. This is in keeping with the Division’s core missions.
FWC officers have full police powers and statewide jurisdiction. They patrol rural, wilderness and inshore and offshore areas and are often the sole law enforcement presence in many remote parts of the state. The Division of Law Enforcement has cooperative agreements with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Officers are also cross-deputized to enforce federal marine fisheries and wildlife laws, thus ensuring state and federal consistency in resource-protection efforts.
Col. Curtis Brown, Director
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
The FWC Division of Law Enforcement’s 1,051 members, including 853 sworn personnel, operate in six regions throughout the state. FWC officers are responsible for uniformed patrol and investigative law enforcement services on more than 8,400 miles of coastline, 13,200 square miles of offshore waters, and more than 34 million acres of land encompassing a variety of habitats including private lands, wildlife management areas, state parks and forests. FWC officers stand as sentinels for the conservation of Florida’s natural resources and the public who utilize these resources. FWC officers are highly trained, versatile law enforcement officers with full police powers and statewide jurisdiction. Cooperative agreements with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cross-deputize FWC officers to enforce federal marine fisheries and wildlife laws, thus ensuring state and federal consistency in resource protection.
FWC officers are an effective model of modern law enforcement multi-tasking – providing law enforcement that:
- Protects Florida’s fish, wildlife and habitats to ensure their long-term well-being and continued viability for educational, recreational and commercial activities.
- Safeguards public safety and enriches the outdoor experience of residents and visitors.
- Conducts search-and-rescue missions to protect the public statewide – saving approximately 1,000 people each year.
- Specialized training, capabilities and equipment enable officers to respond to emergencies, natural disasters and other critical incidents through coordinated efforts with local, state and federal mutual-aid partners.
- Enforces laws to protect the resources of Florida and the safety of people using these resources when hunting, boating, freshwater and saltwater fishing, visiting state parks, viewing wildlife, fishing commercially or processing seafood.
- Provides for public safety and law enforcement services in Florida’s 164 state parks and nine state trails.
- Enforces boating and waterways laws and promotes educational activities to enhance boating safety for residents and visitors – an economic value of more than $16.8 billion.
- Conducts environmental crimes investigations and protects the public and environment from illegal environmental violations.
- Enhances boating safety and waterway experiences through maintenance and repair of 240 boat ramps, construction of new boat ramps and placement and maintenance of waterway markers.
- Protects the public in rural, semi-wilderness, wilderness and offshore areas where no other law enforcement agencies routinely patrol.
- Provides for public safety and the well-being of animals at captive wildlife facilities throughout the state.
- Investigates and monitors the illegal shipping of protected and regulated wildlife into Florida.
- Supports domestic and homeland security initiatives in Florida’s ports.
- Encourages the next generation of conservationists and enhances outdoor experiences through education, public outreach partnerships and youth-oriented programs.
Division of Law Enforcement Sections
FWC officers and investigators protect fish, wildlife and their habitats as well as Florida’s residents and visitors. They provide service on Florida’s waters and state-owned lands, including wildlife management areas, state parks and forests. FWC officers watch over more than 34 million acres of state and private lands, protecting game and non-game wildlife, as well as endangered species, like the Florida panther. FWC officers are responsible for patrolling all of Florida’s woods, including public and private lands, as well as its waters, so they must be well versed on a wide variety of information. It is this blend of resource protection and law enforcement that makes the FWC Division of Law Enforcement unique.
Law Enforcement North Operations
This section oversees law enforcement services throughout the FWC’s three northern regions, as well as the Training section.
The FWC’s Northwest Region encompasses 16 counties from Escambia to Jefferson.
The North Central Region includes 17 counties - from Taylor, south to Citrus on the west coast and over to Nassau and Duval on the east coast.
The Northeast Region’s 12 counties include St. Johns on the north end, down to Indian River on the east coast and west over to Sumter.
This section manages officer recruitment and provides professional recruit instruction, advanced training and career development programs for approximately 853 sworn law enforcement officers statewide. Six recruiters located throughout the state work to fill open positions with the most qualified applicants. Staff trains FWC officers in conservation law enforcement methodology as well as standard police practices. Approximately 80 officers are hired, trained and assigned following graduation every year. This section also provides extensive ongoing instruction to maintain mandatory certifications for all sworn law enforcement officers.
Law Enforcement South Operations
This section oversees law enforcement services throughout the FWC’s three southern regions, as well as the Operational Support section.
The Southwest Region contains 12 counties – from Hernando on the north end down to Lee in the south and east to Polk and Highlands counties.
The South "A" Region includes the counties of Okeechobee (including Lake Okeechobee), St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Glades, and Hendry.
The South "B" Region includes Miami-Dade, Collier and Monroe counties.
This section coordinates all aviation assets (instrumental in search-and-rescue missions – saving approximately 1,000 people each year), offshore federal Joint Enforcement Agreement and state fisheries enforcement, state Emergency Operations Center activities and readiness for natural disasters, mutual aid requests, K-9 operations, multiple dive teams and Special Operations Group activities, including dignitary protection details. Staff also provides proactive solutions for situations within the Division of Law Enforcement and FWC to increase employee effectiveness and efficiency through strategic and operational planning, policy development, accreditation and communication.
Conservation Initiatives and Rule Development
This section provides direction and oversight to investigators in each of the six regions for long-term undercover and commercial resource investigations, protecting legal businesses from unfair competition by unlicensed, illegal entities. It also coordinates agency law enforcement involvement in the Homeland Security and USCG Fusion Centers, the FBI terrorism task force and the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
Investigations/Intelligence staff oversees the Internet Crimes Unit, forensics program and the Wildlife Alert program, as well as provides intelligence information to officers in the field and coordinates with other agencies and entities. It uses the division’s unique capabilities to further the agency’s mission, and assists with coordination of mutual-aid efforts with local, state and federal partners.
Boating and Waterways
Enhances boating safety and waterway experiences through maintenance and repair of more than 240 boat ramps, construction of new boat ramps and placement and maintenance of waterway markers. They coordinate the removal of derelict vessels and the development of boating infrastructure. They promote boating safety through education and outreach, and investigation and analysis of boating accident data. Staff also improves and increases boating access to Florida’s waters through the management of two grant programs.
Captive Wildlife/Environmental Investigations
The FWC promotes responsible ownership of captive wildlife, from zoos to private individuals, and strives to develop the best framework possible that provides for public safety, animal welfare and the legitimate use of wildlife for educational, exhibition or personal purposes. Florida’s captive wildlife regulations are among the most stringent in the nation. More than 6,000 captive wildlife licensees who possess wildlife in Florida must be licensed and meet all safe housing and humane treatment standards. Environmental Investigations includes educating the public and enforcing state and federal environmental laws; protecting and preserving cultural and natural resources; protecting state lands and water quality; investigating environmental crimes; and participation in education and outreach programs about environmental protection and enjoying state resources. This section also responds during critical emergencies, including environmental and natural disasters.
Office of Deputy Chief
This section is responsible for managing the finances for the division, legislative affairs, performance-based budgeting, rules review, staff inspections and disciplinary management to ensure that the agency has the most professional, courteous and knowledgeable staff possible.
Fleet and Technical Services
Staff members support the officers in the field by ensuring they have the best operating patrol fleet and technological equipment available to law enforcement. Dedicated support personnel install and maintain vital communications equipment, vehicles and patrol vessels. They also manage data entry of arrest and warning citations, a computer-aided dispatch system and the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System.
Sworn personnel are fully constituted police officers as provided under Florida Statute 379.3311. This gives them the authority to enforce all laws of the state, not just those relating to fish and wildlife. Our officers are also cross-deputized to enforce federal fisheries and wildlife laws.
DLE budget summary
|Funding Source||FTE||FTE salaries||Other costs|
|Derelict vessel removal||$1,488,550|
|Boat ramp maintenance||$650,000|