The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) announced that Officer Mark G. Shaw has been named 2018 Conservation Police Officer of the Year.
Since beginning his career as a Conservation Police Officer in 2011, Officer Mark Shaw has fully embraced DGIF’s mission of Conserving, Connecting, and Protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources and its citizens.
Officer Shaw has been assigned in both Central and Southwest Virginia and has excelled in both of these diverse work areas. He is currently assigned to Craig County. His dedication and professionalism along with his efforts in serving his community have led to numerous recognitions and awards which include: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Award (2014), Region 1 Boating Officer of the Year (2015), Region 3 Boating Officer of the Year (2016), NASBLA State Boating Officer of the Year (2016), Fort Lee Volunteer of Excellence Award (2016), and the DGIF Life Saving Award (2016).
Officer Shaw is a DCJS certified Instructor, Arson Investigator, and EMT. In addition, he instructs the Agency’s Complimentary Work Force in identifying and issuing damage permits for nuisance wildlife. In 2018, Officer Shaw participated in multiple newspaper and television public service campaigns, initiated or responded to 560 calls for service, made 118 arrests, and participated in 26 educational events including both hunter education and boating safety education courses. He also received seven commendations through our Office of Professional Standards.
“Mark is an avid hunter and angler and uses his knowledge and passion for the outdoors to not only aid him in his enforcement efforts, but to educate those he encounters while afield,” says Major Scott Naff, DGIF’s Assistant Chief of Operations. Major Naff continued, saying, “Mark’s ability to find commonalities with those he meets and the enthusiasm he demonstrates leaves lasting impressions.”
A recent acclamation proves Major Naffs remark. “I have worked as a Magistrate Judge in Huntington, West Virginia for the last 15 years. In that time, I have encountered hundreds of law enforcement officials and presided over their cases. Officer Shaw stands out to be one of the best I have encountered in all my years as a Judge. I would recommend he be considered immediately for a promotion to a position to train other officers in how to approach and speak to the public.”
Officer Shaw’s dedication and integrity along with his passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors and the community he serves makes him a model conservation police officer and invaluable asset to the Commonwealth.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) announced that Senior Officer Gregory Hall has been named 2017 Conservation Police Officer of the Year. Read the rest of this article…
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) announced that Master Officer Mark DiLuigi has been named the 2015 Conservation Police Officer of the Year.
Officer DiLuigi is a veteran officer with 21 years of dedicated service. He routinely demonstrates his excellent investigative skills, to include cultivating informants, successfully interviewing suspects, and old-fashioned “boots on the ground” techniques. Having spent his entire career working in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., an area where urban, suburban and rural interact daily, adaptability is the key to successful law enforcement and community relations.
Officer DiLuigi has personally witnessed the increasing population and changing demographics, and has evolved his law enforcement techniques accordingly, as shown by his accomplishments and the recognitions he has received from the communities in which he works. He is a leader in community relations in his area and an inspiration to other officers. In early 2015, DiLuigi played a key role in solving the largest wild turkey poaching case investigated to date in the history of Virginia. He has solved numerous other difficult cases through his superior investigative skills, and hard work.
Officer DiLuigi has been instrumental in expanding opportunities on public and private lands for hunting, fishing and boating that were facing closure. By working with local government officials and the public, he assisted in the development of a beginner’s deer hunt on a nature preserve in Loudoun County focusing on educating youth and novice hunters in an area with a large deer population but few public hunting opportunities.
He takes the DGIF Mission Statement to heart by ensuring that we provide an opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife. As a Master Officer, Field Training Officer, Instructor, and Background Investigator, DiLuigi’s optimistic attitude, and professional demeanor set a positive example within the agency and for all who interact with him.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce that Senior CPO Jessica Whirley has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year, 2014.
Officer Whirley joined the DGIF Law Enforcement Division in 2007 and was assigned to Cumberland County in Region II. Jessica is an excellent investigator who always goes the extra mile, whether she is working a Wounded Warrior hunt, or using a hidden camera to catch a poacher committing wildlife crimes in Virginia. Jessica has a great rapport with her community and loves to teach. In 2014, Jessica combined her affinity for trapping with her desire to instruct and created the first ever DGIF Trapping Workshop in her area. By coordinating with the DGIF Wildlife Bureau and the VA Trappers Association, Jessica was able create lesson plans and “hands on” stations that participants could rotate through during the class. In addition to her normal duties as a CPO in District 24, Jessica is a DCJS Certified Criminal Justice Instructor and serves on the division’s Defensive Tactics Cadre. Officer Whirley is also one of the division’s Field Training Officers, providing valuable instruction and insight to CPO Recruit Officers.
Jessica Whirley is an exceptional officer who always goes the extra mile in the performance of her enforcement duties. She is not afraid of hard assignments and readily volunteers for special duties when called upon by supervision or management. Jessica is a professional officer, both in appearance and deed. Her hard work has established her as an enforcement leader in her district and in the region. Jessica has an enthusiasm for the job that is infectious and has firmly established herself statewide as an outstanding Conservation Police Officer.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce Senior Officer Jason Honaker has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year for 2013. Officer Honaker is a 25 year veteran of the force currently stationed in Scott County. He joined the VDGIF in 1988 as an Officer in Appomattox County – a position which he held until 1996 before transferring to Scott County. In June 2011, he advanced to his current position of Senior Conservation Police Officer.
Throughout his career, Officer Honaker has continually sought to improve his effectiveness as a law enforcement officer through completion of numerous training and certification programs. He also uses his knowledge and abilities to instruct other law enforcement officers. Because of his accomplishments in the defensive tactics field, he has been appointed as the Chief Instructor for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Defensive Tactics Cadre.
Officer Honaker consistently detects a high number of wildlife, fish and boating violations. He strives to fairly enforce the laws of the Commonwealth while promoting VDGIF’s mission to preserve our natural recourses for future generations. “Officer Honaker is a tenacious investigator and a great officer,” said Colonel Ron Henry, Chief of the Virginia Conservation Police. “Whether he is writing a ticket for a violation or teaching a Kid’s Fishing Workshop, Jason always treats our citizens with dignity and respect. I am proud to formally recognize his dedication to our agency and profession.”
Honaker’s positive attitude and willingness to take on any task have made for successful, cooperative working relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. He regularly works cooperatively with fellow conservation police officers, and wildlife and fisheries biologists, as well as other department personnel. His activities, with regularity, merit excellent performance evaluations from his supervisor.
Honaker has demonstrated a great dedication to his agency and community, taking leadership responsibilities of not only his fellow district officers, but also of training and search and rescue operations. He often works long hours and adjusts his work schedule to ensure district coverage. He is extremely active in his community and has coached the Scott County (Youth) Outdoor Team at the Hunter Education Championships in Appomattox since 1998. This year his team finished in first place overall. He is active in the planning of Virginia Wounded Warrior program events, as well as many other outdoor sports associated events.
Officer Honaker is an exemplary conservation police officer whose knowledge, professionalism and performance of duties have greatly benefitted the Commonwealth of Virginia and her citizens.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce Conservation Police Officer Joseph P. Williams has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year for 2012. Officer Williams joined the Department in 2007 and was originally assigned to Franklin County. In 2011, he earned a transfer to Roanoke County. His current assignment includes enforcement responsibilities in Bedford and Botetourt counties, the cities of Roanoke and Salem as well as patrolling the Roanoke River, James River and Smith Mountain Lake.
Joe came to DGIF with several years of valuable law enforcement and community relations experience. His professional career has included service in a wide variety of law enforcement agencies and responsibilities beginning with campus police duties at Hollins University, to small town police work at Waynesboro Police Department, to larger city police responsibilities at Salem Police Department. Officer Williams passes along the knowledge and expertise he learned as a street patrol officer to his co-workers while looking to experienced conservation police officers to develop and hone his hunting, fishing, and boating enforcement skills. His positive attitude is contagious to both his peers and the public he serves.
Officer Williams understands the importance of public safety. His waterway and highway enforcement efforts over the past year netted boating under the influence, driving under the influence and reckless driving violations. In addition, his concentrated effort at curtailing illegal hunting activity resulted in numerous charges of attempting to take deer at night with the aid of lights and hunting during closed season. While excelling in his law enforcement services, he also does an excellent job in advancing the DGIF mission by participating in numerous programs, educational talks, and exhibits. In 2012, Williams participated in eight hunter education classes and three boater education courses in his assigned county.
Over the past year and a half, Officer Williams has become well known to the dispatchers in Roanoke County and has become a go-to person on issues related to problem wildlife, poaching, and fish-related topics. Because of his willingness to educate and assist, the Emergency Communications Training Coordinator requested him to teach at their basic dispatcher school. Joe gladly accepted the offer and taught a two hour block of instruction. Officer Williams continues to use opportunities such as this to build law enforcement relationships throughout the Roanoke Valley.
As more people move into rural areas throughout Roanoke County, nuisance bear problems continue to be a debated topic. While there have been previous meetings with Bureau staff and Roanoke City / County officials concerning bear conflicts, Officer Williams realized a need for a roundtable discussion. Williams organized a meeting with agency staff, Roanoke County officials, and the Roanoke County Chief of Police to discuss black bear issues. The cooperation of several agencies to address these issues was very well received.
Officer Williams seeks to enhance his knowledge through continuing education. He attended the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Field Sobriety Test Instructor Transition Course (SFST). As one of only two instructors in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he volunteered to teach the new SFST transition course to all conservation police officers. This selflessness, desire for training improvement, and concern for public safety is a testimony to Officer Williams’ pursuit of excellence.
Officer Joseph Williams’ work in 2012 has set the highest of standards for a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. His dedication, work ethic, professionalism, and positive attitude shine through as he performs his work enforcing wildlife, fishing and boating laws and promoting safety and education. Both the Department and citizens of the Commonwealth have benefitted greatly from his commitment to duty and outstanding efforts.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce that Conservation Police Officer James Brooks has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year for 2011. Brooks joined the DGIF in 2003 after working as a Deputy Sheriff in Tazewell and Russell counties, and serving as a Police Officer in the Town of Richlands.
Officer Brooks is assigned to boat patrols and enforcement over a large area, which includes the Clinch and Holston rivers and Witten, Lincolnshire, Laurel Bed, Hidden Valley and the South Holston lakes and Flannagan Reservoir. Officer Brooks’ outstanding efforts in boating safety and enforcement have resulted in a total of 57 arrests for boating or boating-related offenses. Last season, Brooks conducted 138 boat ramp patrols at 15 boat ramps and participated in nine boating under the influence (BUI) safety checkpoints.
Officer Brooks made 106 arrests on game law violators; charges included felony possession of a firearm, hunting under the influence, spotlighting, hunting deer during closed season, exceeding the limit of deer and turkeys, illegally transporting loaded firearms, trespassing to hunt, and illegal possession and unlawful sale of wildlife.
In addition to his patrol duties, Officer Brooks has coordinated boating safety classes in Tazewell and Washington counties. He has offered boating instruction specifically for Tazewell County deputies and Virginia State Police, which allowed for joint patrols on waterways in Tazewell County. He has worked closely with the fire and rescue departments in Thompson Valley, Tannersville, Cedar Bluff, and Richlands. Furthermore, he participates in boat training for the DGIF Conservation Police Officer Academy recruits. He instructs in officer safety techniques during motor boat operation for safe methods of detection and apprehension of boating under the influence violators. He also assists with instruction on Tactical Boat Boarding.
Officer Brooks’ dedication, integrity, and character all make him an excellent representative of the Department. James annually coordinates the Tazewell County’s Kid’s Fish day at Lake Whitten. This year 370 kids participated with over 750 in total attendance. In addition to his commitment to his own local Kid’s Fishing Day, James assisted with three Kid’s Fishing Days in Russell and Buchanan counties.
Since 2004, James’s commitment to public service has gone beyond his daily duties as a Conservation Police Officer. He has taken on the added responsibility of becoming an adjunct professor at the Southwest Virginia Community College where he teaches game and wildlife laws in the Criminal Justice Program. He is a defensive tactics instructor, a senior hunter education instructor, and a certified boating safety instructor. James regularly leads his District in educational programs conducted.
Officer James Brooks’ work in 2011 has set the highest of standards for a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. His dedication, work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude shine through as he performs his work enforcing wildlife, fishing and boating laws, and promoting safety and education. Both the Department and citizens of the Commonwealth have benefitted greatly from his commitment to duty and outstanding efforts.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) named Conservation Police Officer Richard M. Howald the 2010 Conservation Police Officer of the Year. Howald joined VDGIF in 2005 as a recruit in the Law Enforcement Basic Academy and graduated in March 2006. At graduation he was given both the Most Physically Fit Award and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Award which is given to the recruit who displays exceptional overall performance during the entire course of training.
Prior to joining VDGIF, Howald served in the United States Marine Corp as a Sergeant with the 2nd Fleet Anti-Terrorism Team. His numerous skills immediately became an asset to the Department as he shared his knowledge and expertise with his fellow officers and new recruits. He has provided instruction to all VDGIF Conservation Police Officers in mantracking, defensive tactics, and physical fitness. In 2009, Howald received the Director’s Award an award presented at graduation by the agency director to the Basic Academy instructor voted best instructor by the class of recruits.
Since joining VDGIF, Richard Howald has been assigned to Appomattox County and continues to serve that locality and provide support across the region. In addition to his regular law enforcement duties, Howald has proven himself to be a highly professional leader eager to take on new duties and share his expertise. Most recently he was selected as one of the Law Enforcement Division’s three canine units in that newly launched program. He and Scout, a Labrador retriever, received extensive training and graduated from the Indiana K9 Training Academy in 2011. Scout’s specialized enforcement activities include: searches for missing persons and wanted subjects; locating illegally taken wildlife such as deer, bear, and turkey; evidence recovery; and participating in educational programs.
This new assignment builds on the impressive outreach work he was already doing in his community for sportsmen’s groups, civic organizations, schools and other youth organizations. One of Richard Howald’s most rewarding outreach programs in 2010 was participating in the outdoor “CSI” camp that was presented to 60 youths at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center. During this program students are presented with a mock crime scene and are provided information to help solve the crime. Topics covered include evidence recovery, fingerprinting, interviewing techniques, cast impressions, and photography. This is a 3-day 12-hour class and on the last day the students must present than findings and make an arrest. Officer Howald than evaluated their performance and provided constructive feedback.
The 2010 hunting season provided Officer Howald the opportunity to fully demonstrate his belief in teamwork and showed how he acts as a true resource to his fellow officers. There were seven hunting incidents within his working district of several counties last fall and Officer Howald served as lead investigator on one of these incidents and then willingly assisted his co-workers on the other six incidents. The incident on which he acted as lead investigator was unique in the fact that the hunters involved tried to misdirect him as to the actual circumstances and location of the incident. Using his excellent investigative abilities, mantracking expertise, and interview skills, Richard Howald, after a 4-hour investigation, uncovered the actual circumstances of the incident. He was able to get the hunters to confess that the incident had actually occurred in another county, that the shooter was actually a member of their hunting party who also happened to be a convicted felon who could not legally possess a firearm, and that the individual was hunting turkeys out of season when the incident occurred. That individual was charged and found guilty. In addition, the hunters who mislead the officer were charged and convicted of providing false statements to a law enforcement officer.
Officer Howald effectively and efficiently handles calls from the routine to the complex and readily accepts difficult assignments. He has not only established this reputation with his supervisors and coworkers but also with many officers from numerous other law enforcement agencies. This was no more evident than in January 2010, when Richard Howald was called to assist in Appomattox County where one of the worst multiple murder cases in Virginia had just occurred. In total, eight people were killed at the shooter’s residence before law enforcement was notified and able to arrive on the scene. Investigators were familiar with Officer Howald’s mantracking knowledge and requested his support in locating the suspect in a wooded area. After the suspect was taken into custody, Officer Howald used his skills and training to recover key evidence in this pending case.
A recent example of his positive and cooperative attitude came when a neighboring county in his work area did not have a Conservation Police Officer assigned to it. Officer Howald was asked by his supervisor to cover Buckingham County. Without hesitation, he stepped up and filled in by patrolling the county and making sure that the citizens knew that an officer would be available when needed. He immediately made an impact as he made numerous cases in just a short period of time.
As a lead member of the Department’s Tracking Team, Richard Howald eagerly volunteers to provide instruction to interested officers. Recently, he assisted with coordination of a multi-agency tracker training exercise for members of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. This training consisted of a scenario where multiple suspects were on foot in a wooded area and were considered armed and dangerous. During the training, Officer Howald was able to provide instruction in the use of GPS, compass, mapping, and the use of aerial support in conjunction with man tracking. He also served as an evaluator and observed one of the tracking teams in action. Richard was then able to provide valuable feedback to the officers, which will assist them in real life situations.
Officer Richard Howald has an exemplary record in serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Conservation Police Officer and has made a tremendous impact during his service with VDGIF. He is a motivator to other Conservation Police Officers who consider it a privilege to work with him. His genuine concern for protecting natural resources coupled with his professionalism, excellent working relationships, and his confidence and ability to represent the Department in public forums make him the ideal Conservation Officer of the Year. Both the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the citizens of Virginia have benefited greatly from the efforts of this conscientious officer.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce that Senior Officer Daniel C. Hall has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2010.
Dan Hall began work for DGIF in January 1988, and was assigned to Dickenson County where he was stationed for nine years. He served an area that included Russell, Tazewell, and Buchanan counties. He transferred to Smyth County in 1997.
Officer Hall came to the Department after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Wytheville Community College with an Associates Degree in Protective Services Technology with a major in Police Science. The curriculum included courses in Constitutional Law for Police; Criminal Law for Police; Criminal Justice; Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation; and more. He has continued to build on his education with additional training in Swift Water Rescue; Death Scene Investigations; DUI/OUI Investigation; Evidence Handling and Fingerprinting; Tactical Tracking Operations; and more. In addition, he has earned Field Training Officer Certification.
Senior Officer Hall’s working relationships with his coworkers as well as with others in the law enforcement community, local organizations, hunt clubs, and schools is outstanding. He has an excellent reputation for his strong work ethic and sound judgment especially in fast-moving, tense situations. Officer Hall is recognized as well for his exceptional investigative skill, many times utilizing innovative techniques which have led to hundreds of successfully prosecuted cases in Federal and State courts dealing with the illegal baiting, poisoning and taking of game birds and animals, fur bearers and Threatened and Endangered species.
Senior Officer Hall’s positive attitude and willingness to take on additional responsibilities has been a tremendous asset to the Department’s Law Enforcement personnel in his region. His expertise in evidence handling in preparation for pending court cases led to him being asked to serve as the Evidence Custodian for Region III, an area that encompasses the Southwest Virginia counties. In this capacity, he has provided much needed support to his fellow officers, even reporting to work on scheduled days off for the sole purpose of processing evidence at the DGIF regional evidence storage facility. Officer Hall regularly leads his work district in educational programs conducted. He has had an integral role in Hunter Education, Kids Fishing Days, and outreach to schools. He has received letters of appreciation for his public outreach and has earned recognition from local newspapers, Congressman Rick Boucher and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
For more than 22 years, Daniel Hall has served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a dedicated law enforcement officer who strives to enforce the laws fairly while promoting the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries mission to protect and to conserve our natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
Officer Hall is an excellent representative of DGIF, and the Department and the citizens of the Commonwealth have benefited greatly from his commitment to duty and outstanding efforts. It is an honor to name Senior Officer Daniel Hall as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2010.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce Senior Officer Brett L. Saunders has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2009.
Brett Saunders began work for VDGIF in November 1985, and was assigned to Nottoway County where he continues to work today. Currently, his work area includes Lake Chesdin, Sandy River Reservoir and Briery Creek Lake.
Officer Saunders came to the Department not long after graduating from Southern Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with a Wildlife Management emphasis. He has continued to build on his education by participating in a number of courses and programs including FEMA NIMS Introduction course; the National Hunter Ethics Seminar; Search and Rescue First Responder School; and more. In addition, he attended the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Law Enforcement Instructors and Field Training Officer schools.
He has become an accomplished instructor and mentor. As a certified DCJC instructor, Officer Saunders has been involved in the Department’s Conservation Police Officer Training Academy and served as a Field Training Officer. Before Conservation Police Officers were even issued GPS receivers, Officer Saunders, recognizing their usefulness as a law enforcement tool, borrowed a GPS receiver from the Nottoway Extension Office and sought training from the Extension Agent. This action enhanced his ability to collect data and allowed him to produce stronger cases in the courts. Because of this knowledge, Saunders was chosen as an instructor in the use of GPS receivers in the VDGIF Academy, as well an instructor for district and regional GPS training. He has instructed a statewide audience in GPS technology at Outdoor Education events. He has also taught the use and applications of GPS receivers and the related mapping software to other groups with members from Virginia State Police, the U.S. Army, VDOT employees, and members of the Roanoke County Haz-Mat Team.
One area in which Officer Saunders really shines is in community outreach. He has written and professionally recorded 14 public service announcements covering hunting safety, boating safety, and regulation changes. These approved scripts and recordings have also been made available for use by officers in other districts and regions. He has provided educational outreach programs in both public and private schools in the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Prince Edward and Prince George, as well as in him own county of Nottoway. In Nottoway specifically he has two annual programs that are presented to county students. The first is a presentation he makes to sixth graders that he developed using the Virginia Standards of Learning on the animals of Virginia. The second is a boating safety and water safety presentation that he makes to local third graders. In addition, Officer Saunders has helped coach the Nottoway Shooting Sports Team, a group of young men and women who routinely win awards at both the 4-H shooting sports competitions and at the VDGIF Hunter Education Championship.
Officer Saunders was one of the first to volunteer for deployment when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and he was in the first group Virginia officers to respond to those affected areas.
In 1996, he was the recipient of the Officer of the Year Award from Southside Community College. This was an inaugural award presented by the college’s Administration of Justice Program based upon the recommendations of law enforcement supervisors from law enforcement agencies in Southside Virginia including county sheriff’s offices and local police departments.
When it comes to coordinating events, Saunders has demonstrated impressive credentials. He has planned, coordinated, and implemented a children’s fishing day at Fort Pickett for nine years. In fact, Officer Saunders has done so much in the development of outreach programs to promote hunting and fishing on Fort Pickett, he was presented with the Post Commander’s Award for Excellence, and on July 18, 2002, was presented with the Bronze Star Award for Meritorious Achievement by the Virginia National Guard. Officers Saunders is one of a hand full of civilians to be presented with that award.
For more than 23 years, Officer Saunders has set the standard for serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Conservation Police Officer. His devotion to duty and high moral and ethical outlook make for the consummate professional law enforcement officer. Whether it is in his interaction with the public one on one, or at youth events that he has coordinated, Officer Saunders is an excellent representative of the Department and as asset to furthering the agency’s mission. The Department and the citizens of the Commonwealth have benefited greatly from the commitment to duty and outstanding efforts of this officer. It is an honor to name Senior Officer Brett Saunders as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Officer of the Year 2009.