June 30 – July 20, 2021
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers’ (CPOs, or 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 of the Law Enforcement Division of DWR. 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
Patrol in Monroe Creek Proves the Importance of Operation Dry Water – On July 5, 2021, Sergeant Bumgarner and Officer Nevel were patrolling the area of Monroe Creek in Westmoreland County in response to Operation Dry Water. At approximately 2145 hours the officers observed a pontoon operating on plane in the busy creek not displaying navigation lights. A stop of the vessel was conducted and the officers contacted the operator and his eleven passengers. While inspecting the vessel’s safety equipment the officers determined the operator only had 8 PFDs for the 12 occupants. The operator exhibited signs of impairment and was offered the NASBLA standardized field sobriety tests by Officer Nevel. Numerous clues indicating impairment were observed and the subject was placed under arrest by Officer Nevel for boating under the influence and transported to the Colonial Beach Police Department where the subject provided a breath sample of .09g/210L of breath. The operator was also charged with failing to display navigation lights after sunset and not having required PFDs.
Region II – Southside
Intoxicated Operator Charged – On June 18, 2021, CPOs Shane Wilson and Dallas Neel were conducting a boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake, in Franklin County, when they observed a vessel operating after dark with its docking lights illuminated. A stop was initiated and while CPO Wilson was speaking with the operator, he made observations which led him to initiate field sobriety tests. The operator performed poorly on the tests and was placed under arrest for operating under the influence. At the Franklin County Magistrate’s Office, the operator registered a 0.09 BAC.
You Can’t Blame the Kid – On June 19, 2021, CPO Shane Wilson was conducting a boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake when he observed an adult male and a juvenile aboard a PWC operating in a reckless manner. The PWC was following another vessel at a high rate of speed and crossing in front and behind the vessel within 50 feet. A stop was initiated and the adult blamed the juvenile for the action stating “he was the one driving.” CPO Wilson explained the safety concerns and how it is the adult’s responsibility to control the PWC. The appropriate charge was placed.
Lack of Education Leads to Reckless Operation- On June 23, 2021, CPOs Michael Morris and Dallas Neel were on boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake, in Bedford County, when they observed an individual operating a personal watercraft (PWC) in a reckless manner. The individual was operating the PWC at a high rate of speed within 25 feet of a pontoon boat pulling an occupied tube. A stop was initiated and it was determined the operator had not completed a required boat education course. The appropriate charges were placed.
Reckless PWC Operator Under the Influence – On June 23, 2021, CPOs Michael Morris and Dallas Neel were patrolling an area of Smith Mountain Lake in response to complaints of reckless operation of personal watercraft (PWCs). CPO Morris observed a pontoon boat pass by on plane followed by a PWC, which was crossing the wake created by the pontoon within 50 feet of the vessel. While speaking with the operator, the owner of the PWC swam over and climbed aboard the PWC to assist with the inspection. CPO Morris determined both subjects, who were under age 21, had consumed alcohol. Field sobriety tests were administered to the operator and he performed poorly. The operator was arrested for operating under the influence and taken to the Bedford County Magistrate’s Office where he registered above the legal limit for someone under the age of 21. The appropriate charges were placed.
CPO Graduates from Forensic Academy – On June 24, 2021, CPO Brett Clawson graduated from the 103rd session of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy. The nine-week course prepares graduates to properly recognize, document, collect, and preserve physical evidence for laboratory examination. CPO Clawson was chosen to attend this course because of his professionalism, work ethic, and willingness to sacrifice time away from his family for the betterment of his agency. As DWR’s only officer to hold this certification, CPO Clawson’s new skillset will certainly be utilized to the fullest.
No Navigation Lights Leads to OUI Arrest – On Saturday, July 3, 2021, Sgt. Jessica Fariss and CPO Matt Sandy were on a boat patrol on Gaston Lake, in Brunswick County. At approximately 11:30 pm, they observed a motorboat on the main portion of Pea Hill Creek, with no red and green navigational lights displayed. Officer Sandy stopped the vessel and spoke with the operator about the light violation. While checking the vessel’s safety equipment, Officer Sandy smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and observed physical signs of impairment of the operator. Officer Sandy administered field sobriety tests and subsequently placed the individual under arrest for OUI. The subject was transported to the Alberta Jail facility where he recorded a BAC of 0.09.
PWC Violations Lead to OUI – On June 25, 2021, CPOs Leslie Wright and Michael Morris were on boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County when they observed an individual operating a personal watercraft (PWC) illegally after sunset and in violation of a designated no wake zone. A stop was initiated and CPO Wright made observations which prompted her to initiate field sobriety tests. The operator was too inebriated to perform the tests and was placed under arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol. The operator was transported to the Bedford County Magistrate’s Office where he registered a 0.17 BAC. The appropriate charges were placed.
Wanted Subject Asks for Attention – On June 30, 2021, CPO Shane Wilson was on patrol in Roanoke County when he observed an individual drive past his location and throw an aluminum can out of the window of his vehicle. CPO Wilson attempted to stop the vehicle but was unable to locate it. The following day, July 1, 2021, CPO Wilson was on patrol in the same area when he observed the same individual drive past his location, shout an expletive, and throw a clear plastic bottle from the window of his vehicle. CPO Wilson was able to intercept the vehicle this time and initiated a stop. While issuing the driver a summons for littering, CPO Wilson discovered he had an active warrant out of Roanoke County. The operator was arrested and turned over to the Roanoke County Police for warrant service.
Reckless PWC Operator – On July 1, 2021, CPOs Tyler Routon and Leslie Wright were on boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County when they observed two individuals on separate personal watercraft (PWCs) riding beside one another. One of the operators deliberately turned his PWC so it would spray water on the other operator who turned out to be his juvenile child. The spray covered the juvenile’s upper body causing her to cover her face and come to an abrupt stop. A stop was initiated and the operator stated he did not know what he had done was illegal. It was also determined the operator had not taken a required boating safety education course. The appropriate action was taken.
Intoxicated Operator Arrested – On July 3, 2021, CPO Leslie Wright was on boat patrol on Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County when she observed an individual operating a personal watercraft illegally after sunset. A stop was initiated and CPO Wright made observations which prompted her to initiate field sobriety tests. The operator performed poorly during the tests and was placed under arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol. The operator was transported to the Bedford County Magistrate’s Office where he registered a 0.13 BAC. The appropriate charges were placed.
Positive first interactions for Urban Youth – Recently, Officers Keith Wilson and Cory Harbour met and talked with a group of urban youth in the City of Lynchburg, about the CPO’s role, purpose, and responsibilities. The officers were afforded this opportunity when Lynchburg University’s Outdoors Education Program collaborated with the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation for an urban youth fishing and kayaking camp. The coordinator wanted the youth to understand what exactly CPO’s do while at this camp so that when they are out fishing or paddling in the future, and if approached by a CPO, they would understand our mission statement and purpose. Officers Wilson and Harbour added an extra twist to the interaction when they arrived to the camp by boat. The youth were very engaged and interested in the role CPOs have in conserving Virginia’s resource and they spent some time checking out the river boat the officers use while on patrol.
Region III – Southwest
CPO Media Interview on South Holston Lake – On July 1st, 2021, Conservation Police Officer’s Corey Gardner and Matthew Arnold conducted a media interview on South Holston Lake, in Washington County, with WCYB-TV5 of Bristol related to Operation Dry Water. The Officers took the media crew from the news station on a ride-along on South Holston Lake. The importance of safe boating without being under the influence of alcohol and the importance of personal flotation devices were stressed.
CPOs and K9 Cole Share Information at Boating Display – On June 29, 2021 Senior Conservation Police Officer George Shupe and K9 Officer Mark Vandyke, along with our newest K9, Cole set up a boating display at Walmart, in Bluefield. The officers contacted approximately 50 people while at the display where information on the upcoming annual Operation Dry Water, which is a safe and sober boating enforcement outreach effort was shared. The officers also discussed and responded to questions related to boating and fishing. K9 Cole was the center of attention with the kids as well as the adults.
Boat Capsizes on Claytor Lake – On July 3, 2021 CPO’s Gene Wirt and David Peake were called for an 18-foot bass boat that capsized on Claytor Lake in Pulaski County. The owners of the boat were taking the boat for a test drive and having some motor problems. They stated they were traveling about 2000 rpm and heading back to the boat ramp when a wave came into the back of the watercraft, causing it to immediately sink. Only about 3 feet of the bow remained sticking out of the water. Nearby boaters assisted in getting them out of the water and towing the capsized boat back to the ramp.
Missing Kayaker Found Deceased – D31 and D32 CPO’s responded to the New River near the Peppers Ferry boat landing for a missing kayaker on July 3, 2021. A small group had launched from the public boat landing early in the morning when they reached the “Arsenal Falls” portion of the float, which was the location of a previous drowning a month prior. The missing kayaker was seen fishing above the falls and was later heard yelling. When other members of the group turned to check on him he was gone and not seen again. Multiple local agencies participated in a 2-day search of the river and divers eventually located the subject deceased. Personnel involved in the search included Sgt. Koloda, CPO’s Billings/K9 Molly, Harris, Rorabaugh, Rutledge, and Shaw.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Pontoon Boat Driver Arrested for OUI – On July 3, 2021 at approximately 1800, Officers Eller and Sumpter had completed a boat shift on Lake Anna and were conducting a shift change with Officers Newton and Cavazos. As the officers were switching their gear out of the patrol boat they heard someone yell “Look out!” The officers then looked up and observed a pontoon boat ram into the gas dock at the marina. The officers then went over and contacted the driver of the pontoon boat to make sure that everything was OK. At that point it became apparent that he was intoxicated. Officer Eller conducted FSTs which were conducted poorly and offered the subject a PBT which he blew a .15. The subject was arrested for OUI and transported to the Spotsylvania SO where he provided a breath sample which showed a BAC of .14.
Lake Anna Boat Patrol Nets OUI – On July 10, 2021 Officers Newton and Quarles were on a scheduled boat patrol on Lake Anna. At approximately 1830 they observed a subject operating a vessel on plane in a marked “NO WAKE” zone. The officers conducted a stop on the vessel and made contact with the operator. The officers immediately noticed that the operator was most likely under the influence of alcohol due to his slurred speech and the odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his person. Officer Newton conducted FSTs which were performed poorly, and offered the subject a PBT which he blew a .18. The subject was placed under arrest for OUI and transported to the Spotsylvania SO where he provided a breath sample which showed he had a BAC of .13.
Green STEAM Camp at Camp E.W. Young– On July 6th, 2021 Officer Braziel and K9 Grace had the opportunity to go out to Camp E.W. Young and speak to approximately 25 students and staff. The mission of this camp is to introduce the kids to careers and opportunities they would not normally be exposed to. Officer Braziel brought furs and antlers for a hands-on approach to all of Virginia’s Native Species. Officer Braziel also spoke about the role of a Conservation Police Officer in the community. K9 Grace stole the show and several kisses with a K9 Demonstration. Overall, the event was a great success and Officer Braziel and K9 Grace are looking forward to attending it again next year.