July 31 – August 27, 2019
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.
Region I – Tidewater
Boat Violating No Wake Zone Leads to Several Violations – On August 4, 2019, CPOs Druy and Corley were on boat patrol on the North Landing River, in Virginia Beach, when they observed a boat violating a no-wake zone. After stopping the boat, the officers noted the operator had glassy eyes and admitted to having 3-4 drinks during the day. The operator also admitted to not having taken the boater safety education course. Officer Druy administered SFSTs which the operator performed poorly and was subsequently placed under arrest for boating under the influence. The operator was then transported to jail where he registered a 0.10 on the evidential breath test machine. The operator was ultimately charged with operating under the influence, violating a no wake zone, and operating a boat without the boating safety education course.
Richmond County National Night Out – Virginia CPO Nevel assisted the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Warsaw Police Department, in organizing, setting up, and hosting the second annual Richmond County National Night Out. The event, which took place on Sunday August 4, 2019, was very successful with over 200 people in attendance. Officer Nevel and K9 Officer Cramer, with his partner K-9 Waylon, presented a display for the event. Officer Cramer and Waylon also completed several demonstrations, which were very popular with the crowd.
BUI – On August 10, 2019, at approximately 6:00pm, Virginia CPOs Chris Smith and Joel Wiedel were on a PWC patrol in front of First Landing State Park, in Virginia Beach. Officer Smith observed a boat with its bow on the beach, and the engine revving very high for approximately 2 minutes. Assuming that the boat was stuck on the beach he started to head toward it to see if they needed help.
Before he could get to the boat, it backed into the creek and turned left toward Broad Bay, but still very close to the beach where people were wading, and at a speed where the boat was plowing water. It is a posted “no wake” zone, so Officer Smith approached the boat and introduced himself as a conservation police officer and told him to put the boat in neutral. The operator looked at him with a blank stare, had bloodshot eyes and very slurred speech. Officer Smith could not make out what he was saying, because it was not comprehendible. He told him to put the boat in neutral and the suspect fought with the controls for a few seconds until someone else grabbed the shifter and placed it into neutral. Officer Smith asked the person on the bow to throw out the anchor since the tide was moving the boat. Officer Smith asked the operator how much he had to drink during the day and he said 3 beers. He asked if there was a sober person on the boat who could pull over to the boat ramp adjacent to where they were. The boat’s owner said that he was sober, had not had any alcohol, and agreed to pull the boat to the boat ramp. The officers followed beside the boat at a very slow pace to the boat ramp.
Once at the ramp, the offender stepped onto the dock and started walking away from officers. While watching the offender, Officer Smith quickly tied up his PWC, jumped onto the dock and told him that he needed to stop and come back. He had him sit on the dock near the parking lot. Officer Smith explained and demonstrated the SFST’s to the suspect, who then performed them unsatisfactorily. The subject was then offered a PBT and he blew a 0.224 BAC.
Once placed under arrest for Boating Under the Influence, the suspect began crying and telling officers that he was on the last 6 months of a 5 year probation for a DUI. He kept trying to convince officers to not arrest him and asking what it would take to release him. Meanwhile, Officer Wiedel called Virginia Beach Police dispatch and asked for a prisoner transport. Shortly after a VBPD officer arrived at First Landing State Park and transported him and Officer Smith to the VBSO intake.
After more than 2.5 hours after the initial contact, the offender gave a sample of 0.18 BAC on the evidential breath test machine. Officer Smith then submitted all necessary paperwork to the magistrate who found probable cause to charge him with BUI. His record reflects that he has been previously charged and convicted of 3 DUI’s and is currently on probation for his 3rd (felony) DUI. Due to his history, the magistrate determined that he was a threat to public safety and held him without a bond.
VA Conservation Police / VA Marine Police Joint Operation Nets an Intoxicated Boat Operator – On August 17, 2019, Virginia CPOs from the Virginia Beach and Eastern Shore areas conducted a joint operation with the Virginia Marine Police targeting intoxicated boating operators and fishing violations. At approximately 9:50 pm, Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Bratton and Marine Police Officer (MPO) Ready observed a boat pass by their concealed location without displaying proper navigation lights. The officers followed the vessel until it reached the head of the creek where it sat stationary. The officers continued observing the vessel over the next 30 minutes. CPO Bratton identified and observed one of the subjects operating the vessel and he also observed this subject, as well as others on board consuming alcohol. After the observation period, the officers approached the vessel to make contact and both officers immediately noticed that all of the occupants appeared to be intoxicated. CPO Bratton had the operator of the vessel step over to the patrol boat where he performed the seated battery of field sobriety tests. Upon unsatisfactory completion of the tests, the operator of the vessel was arrested for operating a motorboat under the influence of alcohol. The operator declined the officer’s PBT test and also refused to submit to the evidential breath test, as well. He was subsequently charged with not displaying the required navigation light, refusal to provide a breath sample when suspected of operating under the influence, as well as OUI.
Two Nabbed at Same Checkpoint for OUI – On August 17, 2019, Virginia CPOs conducted a boating safety checkpoint at the Hopewell City Marina. While working the checkpoint, Officer Rollings observed a vessel being operated by a male subject with a female and two juveniles as passengers. As the vessel approached the dock the male and female subject’s switched positions and the female passenger took the helm. Officer Rollings suspected the male operator to be impaired as he made contact with the vessel. Officer Rollings conducted FST’s, which the male subject could not perform satisfactorily. Afterwards, the subject was offered a PBT, which he refused and he was subsequently arrested and transported to Riverside Regional Jail. Later, during the same checkpoint, Officer Jones made contact with a vessel approaching the dock. Officer Jones questioned the operator who was dishonest about his consumption of alcohol. Officer Jones conducted FST’s on the subject and placed him under arrest for OUI. He was also transported to Riverside Regional Jail. Both subjects were charged with operating a motorboat under the influence of alcohol.
Nighttime Foot Patrols in Norfolk Lead to Multiple Violations – Due to high winds and rough seas on August 24, 2019, CPOs Braziel and Wiedel canceled their boat patrol and decided to conduct foot patrols along the beaches of Norfolk. They stopped at approximately 4 different locations along their foot patrols from the shallows of the Lafayette River, to Willoughby Bay, to the beaches along the Chesapeake Bay. At each location a variety of violations were detected. By the end of the night, Officers Braziel and Wiedel had checked over 20 fishermen, discovered 10 undersized fish (8 Red Drum and 2 Flounder), issued 3 written warnings for trespass to fish, and issued 8 summonses for license and undersized fish violations. After the foot patrols were concluded, Officer Braziel stopped by the Cavalier WMA and discovered two individuals off-roading in a Jeep. The appropriate charges were placed.
Region II – Southside
Martinsville Annual Fishing Rodeo – On June 22, 2019, CPO Bruce Young, participated in the Martinsville Kids Fishing Rodeo Day at Hunt Country Farms. This evert was sponsored by the ELKs Lodge #1752. Around 50 Children attended and each had success catching fish. The program provided these children an opportunity to get involved with the great outdoors. Awards and fishing rods were given to the children at the conclusion of the event.
PWC Accident on SML – On June 26, 2019, CPOs Eric Dotterer and Tyler Routon responded to the scene of a PWC incident in the area of R14 at Smith Mountain Lake. A 21-year-old male struck a fixed object in the water and was thrown from the vessel. The operator suffered serious injuries and was transported by Life Flight to Carilion Memorial Hospital. The incident is still under investigation.
DUI – On June 28, 2019, at approximately 11:09 pm, CPO Brett Clawson was on his way home from a boat shift when he observed an SUV swerving in the east bound lane on Route 122 in Bedford County. Officer Clawson initiated a traffic stop. He could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle. He noticed the driver had slurred speech and bloodshot watery eyes. Clawson administered Field Sobriety Tests. He then arrested the driver and transported him to the Bedford County Magistrate’s Office, where he obtained the appropriate charges.
Navigation Course Presentation – On July 25, 2019, at the Blue Ridge Park in Botetourt County, CPO Shannon Smith presented a Map and Compass class to about 45 home-school students and parents. The attendees learned how to read topographic maps, how to determine their pace count and use it to measure distance in the field, and how to use a compass. The attendees made their own set of pace beads that they then used on a “treasure hunt.” While some of the parents refrained from partaking in the candy “treasure” at the end, the kids sure enjoyed it.
Tubing Incident on SML – On Tuesday, July 30, 2019, CPO Michael Morris responded to Hatcher Creek on Smith Mountain Lake for a tubing incident. Morris arrived on scene, spoke with the operator of the boat who stated that his daughter had fallen off a tube, and struck her face on a wake knocking her unconscious. She was transported to Roanoke Memorial for further evaluation.
Outreach Opportunity – CPO Joe Williams participated in the annual Roanoke Valley Touch-A-Truck event in Roanoke County on July 27, 2019. Since 2009, this event has hosted approximately 1,500 vehicles and brought delightful memories to over 71,000 people in the Roanoke Valley and beyond. Williams provided a patrol Tahoe, boat and four-wheeler for kids of all ages to have the opportunity to see and touch while learning about the responsibilities of Conservation Police Officers. Many children enjoyed pretending to drive the boat and 4-wheeler while chasing down the “bad guy.” With over 3,000 visitors to his display, Williams was busy handing out information and answering many questions while promoting safety about hunting, fishing, and boating in the Commonwealth.
PWC Incident on SML – On Sunday, July 28, 2019, Conservation Police Officers Shannon Smith and Michael Morris responded to a PWC incident with injury in Franklin County. When the officers arrived on scene, they found a female on the dock with lower body pain who appeared to be in shock. Medics arrived a short time later and transported her to Roanoke Memorial hospital. Through interviews, the officers determined that the woman was attempting to dock the PWC and pressed the gas as she was attempting to get on the dock. The PWC accelerated causing the woman to fall back onto the ski. She sustained a broken pelvis and contusions to her right leg.
Boating Incident (Hit & Run) – On Tuesday July 30, 2019, Conservation Police Officers Michael Morris and Brett Clawson were called out for a boating incident on Smith Mountain Lake at approximately 10:30 pm. The officers arrived on scene and learned the suspect boat had already left. The officers proceeded upstream in an attempt to locate the vessel. They contacted an angler in the area of Indian Creek who stated that a boat had travel through the area about 10 minutes prior to their arrival. Witnesses had a registration number but unfortunately, it was incorrect. However, DGIF Dispatcher O’Hara conducted a search for a partial registration and was able to locate a boat that matched the description. The address was for a residence in Indian Creek so the officers proceeded to the dock and located the suspect boat, which had extensive damage to the front of it. They proceeded to the residence and located a subject with a bloody nose. Morris interviewed the subject, who admitted to striking a dock and then leaving the scene. Based on observations, Morris continued to speak with the subject and then conducted Field Sobriety Tests. The suspect was placed under arrest for OUI and transported to the Franklin County Jail where his blood alcohol content (BAC) was a .19.
Intelligence Sharing Results In Physical Arrest – On July 30, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson was traveling on Scruggs Road, within Franklin County, when he observed a motorcycle (without a VA license plate) traveling the opposite direction and the operator was not wearing a helmet. Clawson activated his emergency equipment and attempted a traffic stop but the operator did not stop. Clawson followed behind the individual for a short distance before the individual drove onto an embankment. At that point, Clawson put his patrol vehicle in park and ordered the individual to stop. The operator looked back at him and drove up over the embankment into a trailer park. Clawson along with the assistance of CPO Mike Morris, and two Franklin County Deputies, attempted to locate the individual but were not successful.
On August 1, 2019, CPO Tyler Routon informed Clawson that he had recently given an individual a summons and thought the individual matched the description of who he said eluded him a couple days prior. Also based on the information Clawson provided, Routon was able to verify the suspect had a motorcycle that matched the description. Routon and Clawson both decided to interview the suspect. He admitted to the crime and explained his reason for running was that he was scared. The suspect said he heard the officer yell stop, but reiterated that he was scared since he did not know what he had done wrong. Charges were placed for various violations.
Vessel Inspection Leads to Search Warrant – On July 31, 2019, CPO Officer Justin Rogers received a request for a vessel inspection in Buckingham County. Rogers made contact with the requester and arranged to conduct the inspection on August 2. On the arranged date, Rogers responded to the residence. As he approached the front door, he detected the strong odor of burning marijuana emanating from the residence. Rogers made contact with the three individuals inside the residence and questioned them about the marijuana. Rogers secured the scene and contacted the Virginia State Police for assistance. Trooper Morgan secured a search warrant for the residence based on Rogers’ observations. The search warrant was executed and charges were subsequently placed on all three residents. The vessel inspection was also completed.
DGIF Officer Apprehends Hit & Run Driver – On Saturday, August 3, 2019, CPO Joe Williams was on patrol when he heard a call dispatched to the Salem City Police of a subject and his dog being the victim of a hit and run. Williams was in the area and assisted in looking for the suspect vehicle. During the same time, the county was responding to an armed robbery call. The suspect lived nearby and Officer Williams checked the address to see if he was home. He was unable to make contact so he utilized his unmarked vehicle and parked further down the road. A short time later, the suspect ended up walking by him in attempt to get home, after hiding his vehicle a few miles away. Williams detained the suspect and explained his Miranda Rights. The suspect provided a full confession and admitted to hitting the man and his dog on purpose. The suspect was turned over to the Salem detective working the case and appropriate charges were placed.
Deer Killed Illegally with Pellet Rifle – On August 5, 2019, Virginia CPO Kevin Webb received information in reference to a deer being killed out of season in Nottoway County. Webb responded to the area and located a fresh deer carcass. It appeared to have been shot with a small caliber cartridge. He also noticed two small yearling fawns lingering in the vicinity of the carcass. With no obvious suspect, Webb attempted to follow the blood trail back to the point of origin. Shortly thereafter, he contacted K9 Officer Jim Patrillo and requested his assistance. While waiting for CPO Patrillo and K9 Bailey to arrive, Webb made contact with an adjoining landowner and questioned him about the deer. He denied any knowledge of the incident and so Webb informed him he would continue to investigate while waiting for the K9 officer to arrive. A short time later, the same individual approached Webb and admitted to shooting the deer with a pellet rifle. The subject stated he only meant to scare the deer away and had no intention of killing it. Webb determined the two fawns were mature enough to survive on their own and so no further management action was taken. Charges are pending on the subject.
National Night Out in Nottoway – On August 6, 2019, Virginia CPO Kevin Webb and Sgt. Tim Dooley participated in National Night Out in Nottoway County. CPO Webb coordinated the Conservation Police display which was highlighted by a computer generated boating simulator and an emphasis on boating safety and awareness. The officers had the opportunity to engage both children and adults from the local community and even had a couple of superheroes stop by. As always, the National Night Out was a huge success.
Marijuana and Illegal Narcotics at DGIF Canoe Ramp in Campbell County – CPO Cory Harbour was patrolling the Joshua Falls boat ramp in Campbell County when he noticed two women on the canoe ramp, one of whom was fishing. He checked her license but also noticed that both women seemed very nervous as he walked by their cars back to his patrol vehicle. He saw that one of them was watching him closely and appearing anxious. Trusting his instincts, he drove out of sight as though he had left the area. However, he walked back through the woods on foot to observe. A short time later, he saw them passing a cigar type blunt back and forth, smoking it and he could smell the odor of marijuana. He approached them, identified himself again and took possession of the blunt, along with a grinder, and marijuana that was beside them. The women admitted to having Lortabs and Adderall, which was not prescribed to them, along with additional marijuana. An Altavista PD Investigator and two Campbell County Deputies arrived to assist Harbour as he searched their vehicles. During the search, one of the subjects became agitated and aggressive. She was handcuffed and detained by a deputy, and then the other female became aggressive and was handcuffed and detained while the search was completed. Officer Harbour found the women to have enough marijuana to be charged for distribution along with the other narcotics. Both were placed under arrest and transported to the magistrate’s office where felony and misdemeanor warrants were issued for both women.
Blame It On The Waitress – On August 11, 2019, at approximately 9:00 pm, CPOs James Hale and Shannon Smith were patrolling Craddock’s Creek, on Smith Mountain Lake, when they thought they saw a boat, without any navigation lights displayed, heading downstream. With sunset at 8:17 pm, they turned to intercept the boat. However, as they got closer, they realized what they thought was one boat was actually five personal watercraft. The officers managed to corral all five PWC’s which were operated by four adults and one juvenile. The operators said their late operation was due to slow service at a waterfront restaurant and they were just trying to get back to their house with their boxed-up pizza. Officers Hale and Smith addressed multiple violations and escorted the hungry PWC riders safely back to their dock so they could enjoy their late dinner.
Region III – Southwest
Van Driver Cited – On Aug 3, 2019 while patrolling the Whitethorne DGIF Boat Ramp, Senior CPO Gene Wirt noticed a silver van pull into the parking lot. Sr. CPO Wirt watched 2 adults and 4 kids get out and go to the river bank. Upon closer inspection of the vehicle, Wirt noticed the registration tags expired November 2018 and it did not have a state inspection. Sr. CPO Wirt talked to the driver and determined both adults’ driving privileges were revoked. Summonses were issued to the driver, who claimed that she had just gotten out of jail and wanted to drive the kids to the river to swim.
Marijuana Plant Seized – On August 3, 2019 CPOs Lee Wensel and Troy Phillips were investigating a report that a bear had been shot by a resident in the town of Narrows in Giles County. The officers knocked on several doors in an effort to gather information. While talking to a resident standing on her back porch, CPO Wensel noticed a large green plant growing away from the house, but still in the yard. The plant appeared to be marijuana. Wensel discussed his observation with Phillips. The officers then confirmed with the property owner that the plant was in fact marijuana. The bushy, six foot tall plant was seized. The Giles County Commonwealth’s Attorney has been consulted about pending action.
Galax National Night Out – On Aug 6, 2019 CPO Boyette attended the annual National Night Out event in downtown Galax. The event was hosted by Galax Police Department and there were a number of groups set up on Main Street to host a large number of attendees. Officer Boyette had over three hundred attendees visit his table asking questions and obtaining information about wildlife, boating, fishing, hunting, and the job of a Conservation Police Officer.
CPOs Recover Stuck Boat – On August 9, 2019 Sgt. Koloda and CPOs Chillcott and Rutledge, responded to the New River in Giles County, in an effort to assist several fishermen that had to be rescued off the river the evening before. Two elderly gentlemen had gotten their inflatable pontoon-style boat wedged sideways and partially under a large blowdown in the river. The heavy boat was also bottomed-out. The current was flowing directly onto the side of the boat, which made it difficult to move the night before. The CPOs worked together to formulate a plan and were able to remove the boat without causing any damage. The owner was extremely grateful for all of the officers effort!
Clinch River Clean Up Day – On August 9, 2019 CPO Joe Early participated in a Clinch River cleanup day in Russell County in conjunction with local community members and the conservation group known as the “Stream Sweepers”. The group has promoted and assisted with cleaning trash and tires from the Russell County section of the Clinch River throughout the summer and has hauled away more than 850 tires and several tons of trash from several sections of the Clinch River. Officer Early joined with nine community volunteers to help promote the theme of “Educate in a Day”, to bring awareness to the mission. On Friday, the group collected more than 35 tires and several hundred pounds of trash from the Clinch River.
PWC Operators Charged – On August 11, 2019 Virginia CPOs Tyler Sheets and Derrick Rickels were on patrol at South Holston Lake in Washington County when they received multiple complaints of jet skis riding too close to swimmers and other vessels. Upon arrival, the officers observed two jet skis operating at a high rate of speed in the direction of the swimmers and turning hard to spray water on them. Both PWC operators were issued appropriate summons.
CPOs Investigate a Suspicious Vehicle Uncovering Weapons and Controlled Substances – On Aug 10, 2019, CPOs Rorabaugh and Boyette were patrolling national forest lands in Grayson County when they observed a suspicious vehicle parked on the side of the road after dark. The officers pulled in to investigate the situation and the driver of the vehicle immediately turned around and reached into the back seat of the vehicle, as if he was either reaching for or hiding something. The officers approached the vehicle and found it to be occupied by a male driver and a female passenger. The officers immediately noted several weapons in the vehicle along with a pair of brass knuckles, knives, and a shell casing lying in the driver’s floorboard. The occupants plainly denied having any other weapons or illegal items in the vehicle. Officer Boyette had the driver step out of the vehicle and observed a switchblade knife in the man’s pocket and a holster on his belt, though he still denied that he had a firearm. Officer Boyette then spotted a handgun with a suppressor lying in the back floorboard of the vehicle. At roughly the same time, Officer Rorabaugh had the passenger step out and found that she had a pistol concealed under her shirt on her belt and claimed she had forgotten about the pistol. Officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found five more firearms, suppressors, brass knuckles, switchblade knives, suspected methamphetamine, other drug paraphernalia, and several locked cases. Officers arrested the two individuals and took them before a magistrate where they were each charged with multiple offenses pertaining to the unlawful possession of controlled substances and weapons. A search warrant was executed on the locked containers seized from the vehicle, and officers found a large amount of marijuana and additional drug paraphernalia inside. Additional charges are anticipated pending an on-going investigation with the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office.
DGIF Staff Speak to Homeowner Association – On Aug 10, 2019 CPO Boyette and Wildlife Biologist Shannon Bowling were invited to speak and answer questions at the Cascade Homeowner Association meeting in Carroll County. The residents of the community invited them to come speak mainly in response to concerns about black bears and avoiding problems related to food sources. Officer Boyette gave a short presentation on the laws pertaining to the feeding of wildlife and Shannon Bowling presented information about the reasoning and scientific basis for the laws. The residents of the community had numerous questions about a number of wildlife issues and the event was an excellent opportunity for DGIF staff to assist the community.
Ginseng Violations – On August 14, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks received a complaint in reference to subjects trespassing on private property to dig ginseng. Officer Brooks responded to Short Hill Road in Buchanan County and located a suspect vehicle. Officer Brooks tracked the subjects and observed them from a distance actively taking ginseng. Both subjects were found to have Ginseng in their possession. Officer Brooks issued appropriate summonses to include closed season and underage ginseng. Brooks also conducted interviews and was able to gather information related to other ginseng violations.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Dinner – On August 18, 2019, Noah Horn Well Drilling hosted the annual Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet dinner in Buchanan County. DGIF had multiple Conservation Police Officers in attendance, including Major Bryan Young, Captain Jamie Davis, K9 Officer Mark Van Dyke, Senior Officer James Brooks and Officer Matthew Arnold in support of the ongoing elk project. K9 Officer Van Dyke gave a presentation on DGIF’s new K9 “Avery”, and the many services the K9 program units provide DGIF. Elk Project Leader, Dr. David Kalb gave an update on the elk herd, which has reached over 250, to the hundreds of people in attendance. This banquet saw a milestone achieved as the Buchanan County RMEF Chapter became the leader in the most life time memberships for a RMEF event this year. The Buchanan County RMEF Chapter is one of 500 across the nation. The memberships, auctions, and raffles provide revenue that goes back into the Elk Project. DGIF has worked alongside RMEF and other groups to make the elk restoration in Virginia a reality.
National Night Out Huge Success – On August 6, 2019, Senior CPO George Shupe assisted the Richlands Police Department with the National Night Out. Nearly 2000 people attended the event which focused on suppling the youth with school supplies for the upcoming school year and to provide fellowship, along with other Law Enforcement Officers in the community they serve. Senior Officer Shupe set up a booth and gave out numerous literature, supplies, and gifts to the attendees. This year’s event was a huge success.
CPO Makes Contact with Over 700 Students and Family Members at National Night Out – On August 6, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks participated in the Law Enforcement National Night Out at Lincolnshire Park in the Town of Tazewell. Police Officers from Tazewell Police Department, Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control and other town and county agencies also participated. The night was focused on back to school forlocal students. Officer Brooks made contact with over 700 students and family members. Educational materials were handed out and questions answered regarding hunting, fishing, and boating and wildlife enforcement as a career. Food was also prepared and provided by the Tazewell Police Department.
Clinch River Patrol Leads to Marijuana Summons – On August 9, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks was patrolling the Clinch River in Tazewell County when he encountered two subjects fishing. While checking one of the subjects fishing license, Officer Brooks detected an odor generally associated with marijuana. Officer Brooks and the suspect had a brief conversation in reference to the odor, in which time the subject stated to Officer Brooks that he had marijuana in his vehicle. The subject then subsequently handed Officer Brooks a baggie containing Marijuana and a pipe. The subject was issued the appropriate summons for possession of Marijuana and released.
Seventh Annual Wounded Warrior, Veterans Fishing Day – On August 24, 2019 CPOs from District 33 hosted the Seventh Annual Wounded Warrior – Veteran’s Fishing Day on the South Fork of the Holston River in Washington County. This was the second year that the event was held on the family farm of DGIF Wildlife Resources employee, Jason Blevins. A total of (36) attendees including (18) Veterans, volunteers, and guests enjoyed a few hours of trout fishing and lunch by the river as well as the “Biggest Fish” presentation to last year’s winner. Conservation Police Officers Tyler Sheets, Matthew Arnold, Joel Early, and DGIF Wildlife Services Technician Jason Blevins, along with District 33 Sergeant Daniel Hall were on hand to assist the Veterans with their creels. This event was made possible by many volunteers and businesses in the community and was a great success.
OPS Award and Challenge Coin Presentation – On Aug 24, 2019 D31 CPO’s surprised Mr. Daniel Olayvar Jr. at his family retirement gathering on Claytor Lake. The officers presented him with his well-deserved OPS award and challenge coin in front of his friends and family. Mr. Olayvar has been a valuable asset to District 31 officers for years, and has been instrumental in numerous conservation cases, some reaching felony levels. For over 20+ years, Mr. Olayvar, Jr. served our country in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft mechanic and retired as a master sergeant. He has been instrumental in the success of the Pulaski County Kids Fishing Day and Pulaski County Veterans Fishing Day. During his retirement, Mr. Olayvar is hoping to spend some of his free time hunting and fishing. Thanks for all of your help Dan-O!
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
No Swimming – On July 21, 2019, Senior CPO McGuire and Senior CPO Billhimer were on a patrol at Staunton Dam in Augusta County when the officers observed a male jump off of the rocks into the water. The water reservoir owned by the City of Staunton is posted “no trespassing” to swim. The officers made contact with the suspect they observed jumping off the rocks and another suspect that appeared to have been swimming in the area as well. Both suspects appeared to be intoxicated. Officer McGuire inquired about a can she observed in the suspect’s pocket. The suspect then pulled out a beer can, cell phone, and a Ziploc baggie containing green leafy substance, a smoking device, and a lighter. The suspect threw all the items on the ground next to him as he pulled them out. McGuire retrieved it the Ziploc baggie and contents. After walking the suspects back to the parking area a female with the suspects pulled the car around and opened her door. The officers detected a odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Officer McGuire searched the car and located a green leafy substance in a cigarette wrapper. Charges were placed for possession of marijuana and trespassing to swim.
Culpeper National Night Out – On Aug. 6, 2019 CPOs from District 46 attended National Night Out in Culpeper and Greene Counties. The event in Culpeper saw 100 people stop by and speak with Officers Bostic and Guizar about Conservation Police and their activities. The officers let kids climb on the district ATVs and get a quick safety talk about the ATVs. Approximately 75 people stopped by the display in Greene to speak with Officer Palmisano and Sergeant Bullard. Regulations were given to adults that passed by the displays and Junior Conservation Police Officer badges were pinned on all the young visitors. New regulations with respect to CWD were a hot topic in both counties. A good time was had by all attending the events.
District 41 CPOs Participate in Multiple National Night Out Events:
On August 6th District 41 CPO’s participated in four National Night Out events. CPO’s Derrick Kekic and Dan Hyman attended the Frederick County event at Snowden Bridge Community Center, where they brought the district’s G3 jet boat. This event saw approximately 1000 people in attendance to socialize with law enforcement and fire & rescue personnel. Participants enjoyed viewing and handling law enforcement equipment as they talked to officers and EMS workers in their community.
CPO Owen Heine attended the Strasburg event at the Town Park near the public boat ramp, which saw a larger crowd this year than in the past. He brought the Mokai to highlight boating safety, and he answered questions related to OUI and alcohol use at the boat landings. He also provided the new hunting law digest to citizens and fielded questions about hunting laws & regulations and managing nuisance bears.
CPO Mike Corrado provided information at the National Night Out event in Front Royal/Warren County. The community braved the heat and rain to come out for this great event. CPO Corrado fielded a variety of questions from citizens of all ages. The kids received coloring books and pencils – just in time for school!
The Luray Police Department hosted the annual National Night Out event for the residents of Page County at the Greenway Trail/Park and Ride in the town of Luray. CPO Brandon Royals, along with other law enforcement and emergency services personnel from across the county, displayed their vehicles and tools used throughout their everyday duties in order to provide insight into their careers. This community event helped to remove barriers that might prevent the general public from interacting with law enforcement and presented a great opportunity to ask questions and see what it means to serve and protect. This was a golden opportunity for CPO Royals to get to know the people of Page County on a more personal level and for them to actually speak with and get to know their new Conservation Police Officer. One of the evening’s highlights was being able to speak with the late Page County Game Warden Robert W. Inskeep’s daughter and listen to stories of her experiences as a Game Warden’s daughter.
On August 6, 2019 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Senior Conservation Police Officer Dobbs attended National Night Out in the City of Waynesboro. The event was hosted by Waynesboro City Police Department who expressed their gratitude for a representative of VDGIF. The event allowed numerous first responders to gather in one area and meet with the community. Senior Officer Dobbs was able to speak with many of the youth from the area about wildlife and a career in wildlife law enforcement as well as answer a variety of questions from adults about hunting, boating, and fishing in Virginia.
Missing Hiker – On August 4, 2019 Sergeant Ham and Senior CPO Dobbs responded to assist the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office with a missing hiker. The hiker last made contact with family about 2 hours prior, asking for help and informing of being lost. Sgt. Ham retrieved the VDGIF UTV to assist while Senior Officer Dobbs responded to the incident command site. While at the incident command site Augusta County Deputies, Mount Solon Fire/ EMS, and Senior Officer Dobbs were able to speak with the family of the hiker and determine a timeline leading up to a last known location. Once the first responders were able to get the GPS coordinates and look at a map, they moved to the last known location and found the hiker’s vehicle. It was there that the hiker was located after making it back to the car. The family was grateful to see their loved one again and the assortment of resource that responded to assist in the search and rescue.
Stolen Vehicle Detected Along Cowpasture River – On July 16, 2019, while on patrol along the Cowpasture River in Bath County, CPO Gardner observed a small blue car parked along the roadway on National Forest. He found fishing equipment located inside the vehicle. After a quick scan of the river bank to see if he could locate the fisherman, Officer Gardner ran the vehicle’s information through DGIF dispatch. The plates did not match the vehicle description and came back as stolen out of Roanoke City. Officer Gardner then radioed Bath County Sheriff’s Office for assistance and positioned his vehicle away from the vehicle in question and out of sight. Officer Gardner maintained a concealed position near the subject’s vehicle. Approximately 20 minutes later, the subject ran out of the woods, got into the vehicle, reversed it into the roadway, and attempted to drive away before Officer Gardner ordered him to stop the vehicle. Officer Gardner then ordered the individual out of the vehicle and was questioning him when a Bath County deputy arrived to assist. Officer Gardner then also determined the inspection sticker on the vehicle to be counterfeit. Several charges are currently pending, including receiving stolen goods, counterfeit state inspection, false display of registration, fishing without a license, and no driver’s license, among other charges.
North Garden Community Day – On August 17, 2019, District 44 CPOs Jacob Chaffin, Matt Cavazos, Adam Roberts, and Sergeant Steve Ferguson participated in the 2019 North Garden Community Day in Albemarle County. Officer Chaffin coordinated the district’s display to include give-away items as well as information on boating safety, hunting opportunities, and living with black bears in Virginia. An estimated crowd of 500 people attended the event.
Multiple Charges Placed on Couple at Glasgow Boat Ramp – On Saturday, August 17, 2019 CPOs Caleb Manspile and Sergeant Williams were on patrol at the Glasgow boat ramp in Rockbridge County. Officers observed an older model pick-up truck, with both doors open, parked in a secluded part of the parking lot. It could be seen that there was a woman in the passenger seat and a man in the driver’s position. Due to the suspicious nature of the vehicle, the registration was run, showing the operator had a restricted driver’s license. The photo supplied by DMV matched the driver. A few moments later, the vehicle left the parking lot and a traffic stop was initiated. Officer Manspile spoke with the operator and Sergeant Williams spoke with the passenger. The odor of recently burned marijuana was detected and Sergeant Williams asked the female if there were any illegal substances in the vehicle. After originally denying it, she admitted to a small amount of marijuana in her purse inside the truck. Consent was obtained to search the vehicle from both subjects. Officer Manspile’s search yielded a loaded .44 caliber handgun that was underneath the driver’s leg. Two loaded .22 pistols were discovered in various bags and a .22 Derringer pistol. Finally a loaded, 12 ga shotgun, with a homemade pistol grip and a barrel only measuring 10 inches, was discovered attached to the rear of the driver’s seat, within easy reach of the operator. The search also revealed a false 7-UP can containing methamphetamine, and a straw. Multiple concealed knives and even a sword were also found. After reading the subjects their rights, Officer Manspile placed both under arrest. They were transported to Rockbridge County jail and held without bond on multiple charges of concealed weapons, possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and possession of a “sawed off” shotgun.
CPO Makes Large Ginseng Case on WMA – On Au. 17, 2019 CPO Tim Bostic patrolled the Rapidan WMA, Hoover Tract in Madison County. While there he discovered a vehicle with a dead inspection sticker and no one around. A check of Go Outdoors showed the registered owner to have no licenses through VDGIF. The vehicle did not appear to have any items that would indicate camping or other activities associated with the WMA. Officer Bostic continued his patrol of the area and encountered the vehicle driving out of the area. A traffic stop was performed. The occupants had dirty hands, dirty clothes, backpacks, and walking sticks. Officer Bostic questioned the two persons as to whether they had any items to declare such as plants or wildlife and the driver said “Yep”. Officer Bostic asked the type of item to declare and the driver said “ginseng”. The driver said they had about “a pound and a half”. The passenger was nervous and was grabbing at his pants pocket. The occupants were removed from the vehicle and ginseng was found in the pocket of the passenger. A further check of the vehicle revealed two grocery bags filled with ginseng. The occupants were interviewed and stated they got the ginseng from the WMA and Shenandoah National Park. The ginseng was seized and the persons released on summons for closed season ginseng collection, violating WMA rules, and no access permits. They were told more charges would likely follow. Once in a controlled environment the ginseng was processed. It took 160 person hours to process with numerous botanists, park rangers, and Officer Bostic processing the roots. It was determined that there were 442 separate ginseng roots, weighing 4.9 pounds, with an age range of 1 to 43 years, and a value of approximately $10166.00. Several of the roots were positively identified as coming from Shenandoah National Park based on fluorescent orange powder marking. Federal charges are forthcoming in addition to more state charges. According to Shenandoah National Park, this was the largest seizure of illegal ginseng in more than two years associated with park property.
OPS Protector Award Presented – On Aug. 14, 2019, CPOs Chris Heberling and Adam Roberts presented Mr. Charles Wright with the OPS Protector Award. Mr. Wright has been an essential resource in all aspects of trapping. Mr. Wright has assisted local field training officers in teaching new CPOs entering the field about trapping. Without Mr. Wright’s help, it would be difficult to reproduce the quality of training or demonstrate the variety of trapping situations a CPO may encounter in their career. Mr. Wright is also a helpful source of information regarding local nuisance wildlife issues and trapper/landowner conflicts. The CPOs in District 44 were proud to unanimously nominate Mr. Wright for this honor.
CPO’s Support Local Foundation – On August 24th CPO’s from Districts 41 and 47 participated in the Hunter T. Crane Hometown Hero’s celebration event held in Stephenson, VA. This annual event honors first responders from the Northwestern portion of Virginia. The Hunter T. Crane Memorial Trap Shoot and Car Show event is held in honor of Hunter Crane who passed away suddenly in 2013. Hunter enjoyed all things outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. This year’s event featured about 300 participants who enjoyed a day of fun and fellowship at the Winchester Gun Club. Throughout the year DGIF partners with The Hunter Crane Foundation on several R3 events.
K9 and District 33 Joint Effort – During the weekend of August 3rd and 4th 2019, Senior Conservation Police K9 Officer Wes Billings and District 33 CPOs conducted special patrols in the Jackson Gap area of the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area to provide a law enforcement presence and to patrol for resource violations on the newly opened access road to Laurel Bed Lake. The access road covers over 15 miles in a very rural area where visitors have no means of emergency communications. Officers utilized the K9 in areas to check pull off areas for any illegal human activity and/or resource violations.
CPO Billings and K9 Josie Attend National Night Out – On August 6, 2019 Senior Conservation Police K9 Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie attended National Night Out Events in Pulaski County. The evening started with attending National Night Out in the town of Pulaski with CPO David Peake and later attending the Night Out event in Pulaski County with Senior CPO Troy Phillips. Officers provided displays of boats and ATVs at the events along with K9 Josie.