The Law Enforcement Division continues to move forward on several significant changes and new opportunities to improve the professionalism and operational needs of the division. Probably the most significant division initiative continues to be Law Enforcement Accreditation. To help facilitate a more seamless and smoother process, retired DGIF Captain and West Point Police Chief Bobby Mawyer has been hired as a wage employee. Bobby has been involved with state accreditation for 15 years, guided West Point Police to full accreditation, and is a master assessor with the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. We are excited to have Bobby back at DGIF to help with this important process. Over the past couple weeks, the Accreditation team has been working diligently to create new policies, visiting evidence facilities, and attending meetings with various professionals to facilitate the process.
The Conservation Police K9 team has recently undergone some noticeable changes to its team. Due to medical reasons, K9 Justice will end his service as a CPO K9. His handler, CPO Billhimer, will return to Region 4 as a Senior CPO assigned to Shenandoah County. Justice and Sr. CPO Billhimer have served the team wonderfully and left a lasting impact on the unit, the division and their community. A big THANK YOU to Wayne and Justice!!
We are excited about the 10 new faces to the K9 unit, five of which have considerably longer whiskers than the others. Master CPO Mark Diluigi and his yellow Lab Lilly, CPO Ian Ostlund and his chocolate Lab Reese, CPO Bonnie Braziel and her black Lab Grace, Senior CPO Wes Billings and his chocolate Lab Molly, and CPO Tyler Blanks and his chocolate Lab Bruno, have spent some quality time with one another working on basic obedience. On February 2, these five new K9 officer trainees and their handlers began DGIF’s first K9 academy. If all goes well, these new teams will graduate in May and be ready to assist officers in the field by the summer.
Finally, the Law Enforcement Committee of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries had its first meeting on Wednesday, January 22. This committee is chaired by Board Member Mr. G.K. Washington. Board Chair Mamie Parker and Vice Chair John Daniels join Mr. Washington to round out the committee. The purpose of this committee is to hear updates from the Law Enforcement Division and to give the division direction and clarification on issues where the Board can be of assistance. Board members Leon Boyd and Tom Sadler also showed their support of our division by attending the meeting. This first meeting was very well received by everyone as the committee heard a great presentation on Law Enforcement Accreditation, received an update on the K9 team including K9 Justice’s retirement, and was presented staffing updates of sworn and non-sworn staff. This committee will give the law Enforcement Division significantly more time to share their opportunities and successes with the board members than ever before.