Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is the law enforcement arm of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Natural Resources Police Officers patrol state-owned lands and enforce conservation and boating laws as well as Maryland's Criminal Law and Transportation Article. NRP is also the primary law enforcement agency on the waterways of Maryland and is the primary response agency for all homeland security threats on Maryland waterways.
Natural Resources Police officers are the only police officers to have statewide jurisdiction, including Baltimore City. (The Maryland State Police (MSP), which is the state police and highway patrol, also has statewide jurisdiction, but have limited authority within Baltimore City).
The NRP now has some 262 sworn personnel and 78 civilian employees.
The NRP have statewide authority to enforce all laws, including the Natural Resources Article, the Criminal Law Article, and the Transportation Article.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police Training Academy, the agency police academy, is located in Sykesville, Maryland at Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission. The Academy officially opened on March 25, 1963 as the Maryland State Marine Police Academy, with a class of eight officers.
The NRP is Maryland's oldest state law enforcement agency.
The NRP traces its lineage to an act of the Maryland General Assembly in 1868 creating the State Oyster Police Force in order to enforce 1830 and 1865 laws regulating oyster-harvesting and conservation. This forces' responsibility was limited to enforcing the oyster laws on the Chesapeake Bay. Hunter Davidson, a former Confederate States Navy officer and U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was unanimously chosen as the first commander of the State Oyster Police Force by the State Board of Commissioners.
In 1874, the state created a Commission of Fisheries to study and report on the status of Maryland fisheries; the State Oyster Police Force was renamed the State Fishery Force and placed under the jurisdiction of the Commission. In 1890, the state enacted its first uniform natural resources conservation law for the protection of game birds and animals. In 1896, the General Assembly established the Office of the State Game Warden, headed by a state game warden appointed by the governor for a two-year term; Governor Lloyd Lowndes, Jr. appointed Robert H. Gilbert to the post.
In 1916, the Conservation Commission was created by combining the State Fisheries Force and the Office of the State Game Warden; the General Assembly provided that the Commission could appoint the state game warden. The Commission selected as its first appointment E. Lee LeCompte of Dorchester County, who served until 1945. In 1918, the first statewide hunting license law was enacted, and in 1927, the first resident and nonresident angler's license law was enacted.
In 2005, the Maryland DNR consolidated the law enforcement function of the Maryland Park Service's state park rangers (known as Maryland Rangers) into the Natural Resources Police, and many of the Maryland Rangers become NRP officers. The NRP's mission expanded to include law enforcement duties for the state's parks, forests, and other lands managed by the DNR. Maryland Park Service managers who had law enforcement responsibilities before the merger retained their law enforcement commissions and continued to be called Maryland Rangers. The park service hired non-law enforcement personnel, also to be referred to as rangers, to take over the non-law enforcement duties previously performed by the Maryland Rangers.
The DNR is divided into four regions:
- Western (includes: Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties)
- Central (includes: Montgomery, Howard, Carroll, Harford, Cecil counties, and Baltimore County and Baltimore City)
- Southern (includes: Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties)
- Eastern (includes: Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties)
The Maryland Natural Resources Police has several divisions and units, including but not limited to:
- Field Operations Bureau (responsible for calls for service, enforcement)
- Special Operations Division (Tactical Response Team, K-9 Team, Underwater Operations Team, Homeland Security Section, Drug Enforcement Unit, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), Criminal Investigations Section, Background Investigations Section, etc.)
- Support Services (Academy, Academy Staff, Training Division, Quartermaster Division, Maintenance Division)
- In September 2013, NRP brought back their Cadet Program (13 Young Men and Women from the age of 18-20) after 20+ years.