The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce Senior Officer Cleggett Gregory “Greg” Funkhouser was named Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2008.
Greg Funkhouser began work for VDGIF on July 25, 1998, and was assigned to Roanoke County, where he is also responsible for Salem and Roanoke Cities. Prior to joining VDGIF he worked with the Virginia Department of Corrections, where he was a supervisor working with inmates. He also worked with a private firm, where he was responsible for supervising, planning and overseeing the company’s agricultural marketing and production activities in the eastern United States. He is currently assigned to Roanoke County and this year accepted the responsibilities of working in Craig County, where he coordinated work activities to cover a vacancy during the 2006 hunting season. Funkhouser also works four other counties and Smith Mountain Lake.
Funkhouser obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science from Virginia Tech and has completed several community college courses in criminal justice. He has continued to build on his education participating in a number of courses and programs including the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Patrol Officer’s Course; the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Comprehensive and Advanced Boat Incident Investigation and Reconstruction Schools; and NASBLA Train the Trainer Course and Boating Under the Influence Detection and Deterrence Course. In addition, he attended the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Law Enforcement Instructors and Field Training Officer schools.
As a certified DCJS instructor, Officer Funkhouser has been involved in the Department’s Conservation Police Officer Training Academy and was heavily involved in the inaugural year of the academy. He is a certified Boating Safety Instructor and a certified Personal Watercraft Safety Instructor. He serves as a Field Training Officer for new Conservation Police Officers (CPO), serves on the Department’s Boat Training Cadre, a group of specially trained officers who instruct CPO recruits in the basic academy and other CPOs during in-service training. He is also instructor of Boating Incident Investigations for new recruits at the academy.
Officer Funkhouser is an extremely dedicated and committed officer, educator, and an exceptional public spokesperson for the Department as evidenced by his extensive community outreach with sportsmen’s groups, civic organizations, and citizens. His programs promote VDGIF’s mission and enhance the public’s knowledge of safety, game laws, and wildlife management. Public, private and civic organizations often request that he speak to their groups presenting information on topics related to game law enforcement, hunting and fishing, safety, wildlife management, and boating.
An example of his initiative in community relations would be the “Roanoke Valley Bear Awareness Seminar” Officer Funkhouser created to educate the public on how to safely co-exist with bears. He developed the program because of urban development encroaching on wildlife habitat in and around the cities of Roanoke and Salem and an increase in bear sightings and complaints. In preparation for the program, he did extensive research and coordinated with several Department biologists. In addition, he brought together the Roanoke County, Roanoke City, and Salem Police Departments as partners in this program.
Other accomplishments he has achieved include his instrumental role in organizing a youth fishing clinic in Roanoke County in coordination with the Roanoke County Moose Lodge; he provided hunting violation training to officers with the Roanoke County Police Department; he served as a presenter at the International Marine Investigator Associations Conference held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and at the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Roanoke, Virginia. Funkhouser actively participates in the annual Tomorrow’s Outdoor Generation Program which is geared to get kids involved in the outdoors and outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, canoeing and camping. He is participates in the Roanoke County National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes Events.
Virginia’s Hunter’s for the Hungry Program continues to grow yearly and provides an important service to Food Banks throughout Virginia. In 2007 and in 2008, Officer Funkhouser volunteered to assist the Hunter’s for the Hungry Program with their annual fundraising event in Salem, contributing significantly to the success of that program.
Officer Funkhouser has effectively and efficiently handled calls from the routine to the complex and readily accepts difficult assignments and handles them with ease. He often goes “outside the box” by using innovative and unique investigatory techniques. Because of his excellent investigatory skills, Officer Funkhouser was selected to work a major spotlighting case with the National Park Service and the Department of Agriculture. This highly detailed and complicated joint investigation involved extensive coordination with agents from both departments. As a result of detailed planning and a combined effort between agencies, four suspects were charged with more than 50 state and federal violations.
Officer Funkhouser was the catalyst for virtually eliminating deer poaching in the Catawba Valley area of Roanoke County. This illegal activity existed for many years prior to Officer Funkhouser’s assignment to Roanoke County. Based on information received from concerned citizens, his persistence, innovative investigative skills, and extensive work hours, Officer Funkhouser apprehended numerous violators. His efforts resulted in 40 charges against seven defendants and over $15,000 in fines and costs. This investigation virtually eliminated the spotlighting activity in the area and complaints are now rarely received.
Officer Funkhouser’s law enforcement efforts have also proved to be life saving. In January 2007, Officer Funkhouser and Sergeant Bryan Young noticed an individual on the river bank in Roanoke. When that individual jumped into the frigid cold water, Officers Funkhouser and Young immediately jumped in after him and, after a struggle, pulled the individual to safety. Because of Officer Funkhouser’s quick thinking and the application of his training, this individual was rescued. The man later thanked both Officers for saving his life.
Officer Funkhouser has received numerous awards and compliments from organizations, other law enforcement agencies, and citizens. He has received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving award three times for his tenacity in apprehending boaters operating under the influence of alcohol on Smith Mountain Lake.
Officer Funkhouser has an exemplary record in serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Conservation Police Officer. His genuine concern for protecting natural resources, coupled with his professionalism, excellent working relationships, and his strength in representing the Department in public forums, makes him a highly valued asset in promoting the Department’s mission. Further, he maintains an outstanding reputation within the law enforcement community, including prosecuting attorneys and the courts. Both VDGIF and the citizens of Virginia have benefited greatly from the efforts of this conscientious officer. It is an honor to recognize him as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2008.