June 7-13, 2017
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
Free Kids Fishing Day – On Saturday, June 3, District 16 officers along with Walmart hosted a free kids fishing day event at Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir in Gloucester County. 42 youth and their parents were in attendance. Kids were given the opportunity to fish, listen to fish/ecology presentation from DGIF fisheries biologist Scott Herrmann, and have a delicious fried chicken picnic lunch. DGIF staff in attendance was Officer Joseph Rollings, Officer Roy Morris, Officer Dwayne Dunlevy, Sgt. Paul Atkins, Officer Josh Thomas, fisheries biologist Scott Hermann, and aquatics biologist Karen Horodysky.
Welfare Check Reveals Illegal Drugs – On June 6th CPO Corrado was on an early morning patrol through the Capron community in Southampton County. The officer noticed a vehicle parked on the shoulder of Main Street with out of state plates. He viewed the driver lying back in the seat. He decided to conduct a welfare check on this individual, and while doing so he viewed a bag on the center console that contained a green leafy substance. Officer Corrado requested assistance from Southampton Sheriff’s Office. When the deputy arrived on scene Officer Corrado attempted to make contact with the individual. Officer Corrado knocked on the window and the driver knocked back on the window. Officer Corrado then knocked a second time and announced “Conservation Police”. The sleeping driver opened his eyes, raised his left hand, made a fist, and extended his middle finger. Officer Corrado instructed the driver to open the door. The driver did not comply. Officer Corrado opened the driver’s door and smelt a strong odor of marijuana. The driver exited the vehicle and was placed into custody. The vehicle was searched and multiple bags of a green leafy substance, suspected edible marijuana, and small baggies containing minute amounts of a white powdery substance were found. Appropriate charges were placed and the incident is still under investigation.
BUI – On June 10, 2017, District 16 CPOs Josh Thomas and Cameron Dobyns were on boat patrol in the Piankatank River. At approximately 1700 hours they observed a PWC being operated with expired registration decals. The officers stopped the PWC and CPO Thomas immediately detected the odor commonly associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage on the operator’s breath. After explaining the decal issue, Thomas asked the operator how much she had to drink that day. The operator said she had a few jagerbombs before coming out. Officer Thomas performed field sobriety tests on the operator and she performed poorly. A PBT was offered and the subject blew a .088, based on the extremely poor field sobriety tests Officer Thomas placed the operator under arrest for BUI and she was transported to Gloucester County jail and charged with BUI and fail to display registration. The operator later said she knew she should not have let her friend talk her into going out.
Region II – Southside
Outreach Event (Kids Fishing day) – On June 3, 2017, the Botetourt County Department of Recreation and Facilities and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries coordinated the 18th annual Botetourt Children’s Fishing Carnival. The event was attended by 859 attendees, in which 395 were children. This free event included door prizes for the first 350 children, a free hot dog lunch, and educational exhibits by VDGIF, Trout Unlimited, Orvis, Dead Drift Outfitters, and Natural Bridge Zoo. Other fun opportunities included a birdhouse building station, games and contests including a boating safety quiz, casting contest, fly casting, and biggest fish. The fishing opportunities included trout tanks for children 6 and under and fishing on the James River for everyone. The event is funded through local businesses, Botetourt County contributions, and VDGIF e-Store grant funds. Trophies for the contests were generously donated by the Virginia Bear Hunter’s Association. Grand prizes included a camping package also donated by the Virginia Bear Hunter’s Association and a $250 gift card donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse. This event was attended by CPO Shannon Smith and CWF Volunteer George Kutchman.
Bear Safety Presentation – On June 6, 2017, Conservation Police Officer Tyler Sheets gave a black bear safety and informative presentation at the Franklin County Library. A large group attended the program that highlighted the need to remove food sources that include bird feeders and trash containers as bears await other natural food provided by mother-nature to become available.
CPO Competes in LawFit Challenge – CPO Eric Dotterer participated in a Law Fit Challenge in Pearl Mississippi on June 8th and 9th. There were 124 participants from several states that competed for the best overall score in weight lifting, chin-ups, push-ups, running, sit-ups and other exercises. Officer Dotterer did well in the competition and conservation officers from Mississippi finished #1 and #2 .
Search Finds Victim – CPO Tyler Blanks and CPO Toby Livermore were called to the scene of a possible drowning on Lake Gaston on Sunday, June 11, 2017. The two officers coordinated efforts with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and VSP divers after a man jumped from a dock and attempted to swim to a bridge approximately 400 yards away. The victim was found 150 yards from where he entered the water at a depth of 6.5 feet by VSP divers. The 49 year old man from Miami, Florida was visiting relatives near the lake.
Region III – Southwest
WMA Activities – On May 28, 2017, Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Davis and CPO Matthew Arnold patrolled Clinch Mountain WMA and the Holston River. Since this was during Memorial Day Weekend, there were numerous people enjoying the areas by camping, fishing, and boating. Sergeant Davis and Officer Arnold detected several underage drinkers and people at campsites on the WMA drinking alcoholic beverages. The appropriate charges were placed and the officers educated the campers on the regulations of the WMA, including the prohibition of alcohol in public.
Missing Person – On June 4, 2017, CPO Morgan O’Quinn began working a missing person case on the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. A concerned citizen reported that a Toyota pickup truck was located at a gate near the top of the mountain in the management area, running with no one around. Officer O’Quinn responded and called for Senior Officer Billings and K-9 Josie as well as Smyth County Sheriff’s office Sgt. Lowe and his K-9. A search of the area was initiated as well as an investigation as to the owner of the vehicle. It was found that the truck belonged to Gary Shannon Earp of Tazewell County. Mr. Earp’s family was contacted and they advised that they had not heard from him since Thursday evening. Senior Officer Hall, Officers Hash, Early, Burke, Arnold, and DGIF Bureau Staff assigned to Clinch Mountain WMA all responded and assisted with Search and Rescue Operations. Smyth County Sheriff’s Office detectives responded and a Joint Incident Command was established. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management responded with a mobile communications truck due to the remote location of the operation. Smyth County Sheriff’s Office SERT Team, Virginia State Police, Virginia State Police Med-flight 2, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Ramey and Officer Mullins and Black Diamond Search and Rescue all responded and help to conduct searches during the operation. Thus far, Mr. Earp has not been located and has been declared as a missing person.
Public Education – On June 4, 2017, CPO Derrick Rickels and Senior Officer Dan Hall assisted Volunteer Instructor Jason Honaker with a Boating Safety Course at Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County. Officer Rickels gave a presentation on Virginia’s State Boating Laws and Regulations, Registering and Titling requirements of motorboats and laws governing the safe operation and equipment requirements of all watercraft on inland waters of the state.
Boat Safety Patrols – On June 10 and June 11, 2017, CPO Derrick Rickels and Senior Officer Dan Hall conducted scheduled boat patrols on South Holston Lake in Washington County. During these patrols, the officers conducted (40) boat Inspections, (33) license and creel inspections and issued multiple summons for operating motorboats and watercraft without proper life saving devices (PFDs). There were motorboats being operated on expired registrations (expired over two years), and one subject operating a personal watercraft without a lanyard attached to the operator. The officers also issued multiple verbal warnings for minor operation violations observed, numbers being displayed incorrectly and minor non-serviceable equipment violations found during inspections performed.
Veterans Fishing Event – On June 4, 2017, Senior CPO Troy Phillips and CPO David Peake participated in the 6th Annual Pulaski County Veterans Fishing Day at Claytor Lake State Park. Close to 30 combat veterans were in attendance and were treated to a tee shirt, a Walmart gift card, an American flag picture and a guided fishing trip with the Southwestern Virginia Bassmasters on Claytor Lake. Mission BBQ out of Roanoke catered the event and Volvo Trucks North America brought their military themed rigs for display. Claytor Lake State Park allowed free entry into the park for all who participated and allowed the event to use their facilities for free. Walmart donated thousands of dollars in store credit for the event and Pepsi & Dr. Pepper donated the tee shirts.
Public Outreach (Kids Fishing Day) – On June 3, 2017, CPO Mark VanDyke and Dylan Harding assisted with the Annual Kid’s Fishing Day in St. Paul, VA. The St. Paul Police Department and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office were on site, as well as several local fire and rescue teams from St. Paul, Castlewood and Dante. Multiple local businesses were excited to get involved and provided breakfast, drinks and prizes for the children. One of the most anticipated events of the annual Clinch River Days Festival, over 500 people participated, including over 210 kids that registered to fish.
Vehicle Accident Assistance Provided – On June 9, 2017, Conservation Police Sergeant James Hale was traveling on interstate 81 when he came upon a motor vehicle accident. The driver ran off the right side of the interstate, overcorrected, crossed the lane of travel and hit the end of a guard rail head on, causing the truck to spin around. Sgt. Hale had DGIF Dispatch contact the Virginia State Police. Sgt. Hale then checked for injuries after the driver got out of his truck but found there were no injuries. Sgt. Hale noticed beer bottles in the truck and the odor commonly associated with consuming alcohol about the driver’s person. He told the driver not to eat or drink anything until after VSP told him he could. The driver stated he hadn’t drunk anything for a while when asked if he had been drinking. Sgt. Hale kept the driver under observation and staged for traffic control until two troopers arrived. He then passed the information to them for further investigation.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Boating Safety Stressed at D.A.R.E. Day – On May 26, 2017 Sergeant Carl Martin participated in the 30th Annual Warren County Sheriff’s Office D.A.R.E. Fun Day. Approximately 450 5th-grade students attended the event. The kids were able to interact with a variety of public safety agencies. Sgt. Martin displayed kayaks and an assortment of life jackets to stress the importance of safety equipment on smaller boats. Several kids asked to sit in the kayak, but they first had to choose a PFD of the appropriate size and put it on properly before getting in the kayak. Thanks to DGIF’s Boating Safety Program, many pencils, activity books, litter bags, and stickers were provided to the kids. We would like to thank the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for the opportunity to be a part of this event each year!
Maidens Landing Patrol – On June 10, 2017, Senior CPO Tim Dooley was patrolling Maidens Landing in Powhatan County when he encountered two subjects smoking marijuana. A consensual search of the subject’s belongings resulted in the seizure of 1.4 grams of marijuana, a schedule IV narcotic, 7 marijuana smoking devices, 2 marijuana grinding devices, and a brown waxy substance believed to be a potent form of THC commonly referred to as marijuana wax. The subjects were charged with trespassing on DGIF property and possession of marijuana. Additional charges are pending lab analysis.
Kid’s Fishing Derby – On June 3, CPO Steve Hicks and Sergeant Owen Bullard participated in the annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Fairfax Wildlife Club in Fauquier County. Approximately 20 kids with older siblings and parents attended with prizes being given by age group for biggest fish. Officer Hicks gave a presentation about the types of fish in the lake and the biology of the fish with the kids answering questions to win more prizes. Each kid walked away with a brand new fishing rod, some lures, and lots of departmental key chains and whistles. Everyone caught fish, received lots of fishing gear, and walked away full from a great meal. A good time was had by all.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is now accepting applications for the next Conservation Police Officer Basic Law Enforcement Academy. The deadline to apply is 11:59 PM on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.