The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) began a new program within their Law Enforcement Division to recognize constituent supporters of the DGIF Mission. The first group of 23 citizens received an exclusively numbered O.P.S. Protector Challenge Coin. In addition, recipients were given a certificate of appreciation and their names will be permanently maintained in the database on our newly launched professional standards website.
The purpose of the O.P.S. Protector Challenge Coin is to establish a field-level initiative and tradition to formally recognize on a continual basis those citizens in the Commonwealth who have gone above and beyond to aid and assist the efforts of our law enforcement officers. Through their continued dedication and commitment, these supporters have earned a unique place within our ranks as a “Wildlife and Natural Resources Protector,” which has been engraved upon each of the numbered coins.
This effort is part of the formation of the Office of Professional Standards (O.P.S.), which focuses on best practices, consistency, and quality public service, enabling Conservation Police Officers to better meet public expectations. Captain John Cobb, Professional Standards Manager of the DGIF Law Enforcement Division, stated, “Protecting our wildlife and natural resources while at the same time ensuring there is a safe environment for outdoor enthusiasts is a difficult and challenging profession. We are fortunate to have many law enforcement supporters who lend us a hand across the Commonwealth. To show our appreciation to the most outstanding partners and constituents of our Agency Mission, we have designed a special O.P.S. Protector Challenge Coin, along with a formal nomination process for this honor.”
The first sequentially numbered “Law Enforcement ⭑ O.P.S. #1 Protector Challenge Coin” is displayed at DGIF on a plaque as Posthumous Recognition of the most dedicated protectors prior to the establishment of this special recognition program during the 115th Anniversary of the Law Enforcement Division.
This inaugural group of recognized wildlife law enforcement supporters were nominated by Conservation Police Officers currently serving in the field across Virginia. The majority of these honorees have supported the DGIF mission for an extended timeframe. The average recipient of this honor has shown an agency commitment between 20 to 30 years; however, one of the inaugural recipients has voluntarily served with this agency for 50 years. Honorees represent many different occupations and backgrounds, including wildlife rehabber, taxidermist, hunter education instructor, complementary work force (CWF) volunteer, wildlife check station operator, military veteran, hunt club member, retired police officer, volunteer firefighter, schoolteacher, business owner, farmer, artisan, school bus driver, landowner, hunter, angler, boater, wildlife watcher and outdoor enthusiast.
The following citizens were selected in this process to receive a sequentially numbered O.P.S. Protector Challenge Coin in the following order:
|Coin #||Recipient’s Name||County|
|#2||David Jack Ratliff||Dickenson|
|#4||Michael Rolband||Prince William|
|#6||Dennis S. Veach||Frederick|
|#7||Steve Holt Sr.||Campbell|
|#11||Jesse Battle Harrell||Greensville|
|#16||Aaron Clifford Grimsley||Fauquier|
|#22||Jack Lee||New Kent|
|#24||Richard L. Wharam||Albemarle|
Going forward, each of the 23 law enforcement districts across the state will be given an opportunity semiannually to nominate someone from their geographical area for this special honor.
Visit our website to see the O.P.S. Protector Challenge Coin and learn more about the Office of Professional Standards.