Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers (CPO’s-previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] of the Law Enforcement Division of DGIF. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation.
Editor’s Note… Support Your Local CPO…
Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws or unethical outdoorsmen tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen and sportswomen! Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Last week the DGIF 9th Basic and Modified Law Enforcement Academies graduated a total of 32 new Conservation Police Officers. Twelve of these officers were previously sworn and the remaining 20 completed the full basic training. The officers took an oath to serve and protect you and the resources we all use and enjoy, from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. These highly trained and dedicated men and women have a daunting task to serve in multiple counties and communities. Some newly sworn officers can use your assistance to get oriented to their new assignments. Remember these officers are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors — support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically. If there is a new CPO in your county, get to know them and offer your assistance and knowledge on local contacts and conditions. They are your best partner in preserving and protecting our rich hunting, boating and fishing traditions. Help make all our jobs safer and more successful – support all your area law enforcement officers in any way you can. They are there to benefit you.
David Coffman, Editor The Outdoor Report
Region I – Tidewater
Spotlighting Turns Ugly – Beginning in late September 2016, CPO Greg Hall received several reports of spotlighting in King William County. Several deer had been shot in fields in the area. Two callers reported seeing a large white pickup after hearing shots fired. Officer Hall began working spotlighting patrol in the area in early November 2016 and continued working the area throughout the hunting season. A landowner observed a truck spotlighting his field in early December 2016. He followed the truck to a road intersection to attempt to make contact with the driver. The landowner was run over by the same truck. He provided a description of the vehicle to the King William Sheriff’s Office, a large white pickup truck with white mirrors. Officer Hall interviewed the landowner and another person who reported seeing a spotlight, from the white truck, during the incident. Officer Hall spoke with several hunters and asked them to obtain license plate numbers of any vehicles they saw matching the description. In early January 2017, a hunter sent Officer Hall a photograph of a truck matching the description. Officer Hall forwarded the information to the King William Sheriff Office investigators. King William Investigators determined this was the truck which had struck the landowner. Officer Hall obtained Arrest Warrants for the four occupants of the truck in January, charging each with Spotlighting. The case was heard in March 2017. The driver’s hunting privileges were revoked for five years.
Hounds for Hero’s – On Saturday April 8th, CPO Sergeant Valasek and Officer Hennaman attended the 5th annual “Hounds for Hero’s” event in Hanover County. The event kicks off with a large BBQ feast with the food provided by donations from local companies, followed by a large auction where items are donated from community sponsors. The highlight of the event is a fox hound field trial inside of Fox Run training preserve. This event has proven to be a wonderful event and this year raised over $19,000 to be distributed to wounded veterans.
Region II – Southside
Officers Intuition Saves Life – On April 10, 2017, at approximately 12:15 PM, CPO Tyler Blanks and his new Probationary Officer Toby Livermore were on their way to court traveling down Highway 58 in Mecklenburg County. While crossing Rudd’s Creek, a large body of water that passes underneath Route 58, Officer Blanks looked down at the boat ramp and saw an older gentleman who had launched a crawdad type vessel at the ramp. Officer Blanks could see from the highway that the vessel didn’t appear to have registration numbers displayed on the hull. With a little time cushion before court, Blanks and Livermore decided to make a u turn and go check the boater’s status. Upon making contact with the gentlemen, they discovered that he had just purchased the boat and did in fact have a temporary registration. The man explained he was just trying the boat out and was planning on going to another lake later that day to actually fish. Pleasantries were exchanged and the officers departed, but not before the man told Blanks and Livermore he appreciated what they did and that he was going to pray for them. As the two officers drove out of the area and down Route 58, Officer Blanks felt the urge to look over his shoulder at the ramp one last time before he went out of view. When he did, he was surprised to see the old man in the water at the end of the boat ramp holding on to the dock. All Officer Blanks could see was the top of the man’s head. Officer Blanks and Livermore activated their emergency equipment and sped up to get to a location where they could make a u turn. They quickly made their way back down to the ramp and ran out to the end of the dock where both Officers helped the man from the water. The man had fallen off the boat at the dock and his pants had entangled around a wing nut on the trolling motor and he could not free himself. Luckily the 81 year old man was not injured but he told the officers he was about to give out and that he was certain that Officers Blanks and Livermore had saved his life. Once the Officers got him to safety they evaluated him and asked him if he needed medical services. He said he was okay now and that he would be wearing his PFD from here on out. Officer Blanks and Livermore had to make their way to court but were able to make contact with another boater who had arrived at the ramp. They explained to the newly arriving boater what had just occurred and asked him if he would keep an eye on the man and help him out if he needed anything while preparing to leave, to which the gentlemen said he absolutely would.
Region III – Southwest
Illegal Elk Case Made – On April 15, 2017, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Joe Early, and Matt Arnold concluded an investigation from December 2016 regarding an illegally killed elk that was shot in Russell County. Evidence was collected that included pictures of the suspect holding the elk antlers. After many unsuccessful attempts were made to locate the suspect, he was located and interviewed. During the interview he admitted that he did have possession of the illegal Elk but that he became suspicious and disposed of the antlers. The appropriate charges were made.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Fugitive from Justice Fishing without a License, Caught – On Sunday, April 9, 2017, CPO’s Quarles, Hatmaker and Hall were patrolling the river bank along the Rappahannock River on the Stafford / Fredericksburg line. Officers observed two males fishing on a rock in the river near the riverbank. The officers approached the individuals fishing and observed hickory shad, cat fish, and other fish that they had caught. When the officers asked the individuals for their fishing licenses, they stated they did not have them. While speaking with the fishermen, Officers Quarles and Hatmaker were notified that one of the individuals was a fugitive from justice on full extradition from Massachusetts, for strangulation, that allegedly occurred in 2015. After confirming the subject’s name and identifying information, Officers Quarles and Hatmaker subsequently arrested the fisherman. Officers issued summons to both subjects for fishing without a license. The fugitive from justice was taken before the magistrate where a warrant of extradition was issued. The fugitive was held without bond in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.