New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland presided over a graduation ceremony Friday for 30 new Environmental Police Officers who completed 31 weeks of training at DEP’s Environmental Police Academy.

The officers will immediately be deployed to protect a 2,000 square mile watershed and critical infrastructure across nine counties that supply roughly half of New York State’s population with reliable, high quality drinking water.

This year’s class is one of the most diverse in the history of the academy, first launched in 2002, as the first-of-its-kind in the nation to provide training and concentrated course work in advanced environmental law. The new graduates, who reside in 12 different counties and speak seven different languages, completed training in police science, the use of firearms, and counterterrorism.

In addition, the new police officers completed courses in environmental conservation law, land navigation, fish and wildlife science, and watershed protection.