BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Twenty-seven recruits graduated from the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) Academy Saturday.

Gov. Larry Hogan, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and Superintendent Colonel G. Adrian Baker took part in the ceremony at Sandy Point State Park.

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“In a state as rich in natural resources as ours, the career today’s graduates are embarking on is absolutely vital,” Gov. Hogan said. “You will be asked to put yourselves in danger to protect our citizens. You may not always be appreciated and sometimes you may be unfairly criticized. But today, I want each and every one of you to know that you will always have the full support of your governor, who will have your back and who will be an advocate fighting for you each and every day.”

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 27 officer-candidates who graduated adapted to remote learning with quarantines and field training in small groups. With the addition of this class, NRP will have 268 officers—a near-record high.

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NRP serves and protects the more than 17 million visitors to Maryland’s 75 state parks, numerous public lands, and state waterways.

CBS Baltimore Staff