February 27 – March 13, 2018
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
Illegal Fish and Expired License – On Feb. 24, 2018, Senior CPO Tyler Bumgarner was on patrol in King & Queen County along the Mattaponi River. He observed two fishermen fishing from the bank. As he approached, one of the men put his fishing rod down on the ground and walked away. Upon inspecting the fishermen, he found that one subject had caught several fish and had placed them in a cooler. Tyler found the man to be in possession of a 12 inch striped bass. It was undersize and the season is closed. It was also determined his fishing license had just expired on 02/23. The second subject who had put his fishing rod down did not have a fishing license. A summons was issued for the illegal striper and a warning given for the expired fishing license. Another summons was issued to the 2nd subject for no license.
Trespass to Fish – On Feb. 28, 2018, CPO Joe Rollings was on patrol in Gloucester County when he observed fresh tire tracks going into posted property on a private lane where there was a pond. Rollings had previously received complaints from the landowner about people trespassing to fish and requested the officers to patrol the area. Rollings found four individuals fishing at the pond which was posted no trespassing to fish. After determining they did not have permission to be there, Rollings only wrote the violation to the individual who had brought his friends there to fish.
Region III – Southwest
12th Annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum – During the week of February 25th through March 3rd 2018; CPOs Tyler Sheets, Andy Rutledge, and Corey Gardener represented Region 3 Conservation Police at the 12th Annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum hosted by The Port of Virginia and the United States Coast Guard in the City of Hampton. Officers received instruction from the USCG on topics ranging from general boat handling to proper search and rescue operations; both in the classroom and on the water. The training progressed through the week with a mass search and rescue practical training exercise conducted on Thursday night. Nearly 30 vessels and their crews were tasked with finding six missing vessels using search and rescue tactics they had learned earlier in the week. The event was attended by multiple Police, Fire, and EMS departments from both Virginia and North Carolina and showed how important it is to network with other States, Localities and Departments to properly utilize their resources when conducting a Search and Rescue Operation.
WMA Hunter License Inspection Leads to Search for Elderly Subject – On February 26th, 2018, CPO Matthew Arnold was conducting a patrol on Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area in Washington County. At approximately 8:15 pm, CPO Arnold came in contact with two adults and two juveniles in a vehicle with a dog box in the back. After a brief interview with the driver, it was determined that the group was raccoon hunting. CPO Arnold advised them it was unlawful to hunt on the WMA on Sunday and upon inspection of their hunting licenses, neither of the adults could produce a valid hunting license. At that time, the appropriate summonses were issued for the violations encountered. CPO Arnold proceeded to ask the subjects to recover their dogs and they stated that they had tracking collars on the animals and the dogs were approximately 120 yards within the wood line. CPO Arnold waited for the individuals to return with their dogs. After approximately 45 minutes had passed, CPO Arnold attempted to locate the group and was unsuccessful. After waiting approximately two hours, CPO Arnold attempted once again to locate the group. While searching, CPO Arnold heard a car horn sound from the direction of the subject’s vehicle. Upon return, CPO Arnold located three of the four individuals at their vehicle. After speaking to the father of the two juveniles, CPO Arnold discovered that the elderly subject in the group had turned back before the others. CPO Arnold notified Richmond Dispatch of the missing subject and then activated the siren of his patrol vehicle. As CPO Arnold was about to initiate a new search for the elderly subject, who was determined to be diabetic; he saw a light shining into the sky from within the woods. After walking in the direction he had seen the light and calling out to the subject, CPO Arnold was able to locate the missing individual, uninjured. The subject claimed he had gotten lost and could not find his way out until he heard the siren. CPO Arnold then escorted all individuals in their vehicle off the WMA.
CPO Discovers Meth in Suspicious Vehicle – On February 28, 2018 CPO Cody Hash was traveling north on Interstate 81 in Smyth County when he noticed a vehicle parked at the end of a dead end road adjacent to the interstate and private property where he had encountered hunting violations in the past. After exiting the Interstate and driving to the location of the parked vehicle, CPO Hash contacted multiple subjects inside the vehicle. After a brief interview with the occupants, consent to search the vehicle was gained. Immediately; CPO Hash located several grams of methamphetamine within both occupants immediate area of control. The occupants were detained and the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office was contacted for assistance. Upon arrival of Sheriff’s Department Officers, a more thorough search of the vehicle and occupants revealed approximately 12 grams of methamphetamine, two sets of scales, bags and a small amount of cash. The Smyth County Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation and charges are pending.
CPOs Participate in Active Shooter Exercise at Wytheville Community College – On March 2, 2018, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Adam Keene, CPOs Jason Harris and Benjamin Boyette participated in a joint active shooter exercise at the Wytheville Community College. The officers participated in the exercise along with officers from the Virginia State Police, Wythe County Sheriff’s Office, Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, Wytheville Police Department, Galax Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. Multiple other support and medical agencies participated and the exercise was very successful at preparing both law enforcement and school employees on how to properly react to an active shooter on campus.
Patrol of Stocked Trout Waters – On Friday, March 09, 2018, CPO Matthew Arnold was patrolling stocked trout waters in Buchanan County when he encountered a subject fishing and upon inspection, found that the subject did not possess either of the required licenses to fish. The subject claimed two of his family members were also fishing. CPO Arnold made an attempt to locate the other two individuals, but only found one of the reported two subjects. This subject was found not to be in possession of the required licenses to fish as well and claimed the final person reported to be involved, had run away when he observed Officer Arnold speaking to the first subject. After searching for the reported third subject and not finding him, Officer Arnold discovered that the two subjects contacted initially, had left the trout stream. Officer Arnold began an investigation, which included more thorough interviews with both subjects at their residence. Both subjects admitted there was never a third subject fishing and had given Officer Arnold the initial information because neither possessed a valid Driver’s License and were afraid they would be charged with driving suspended. Officer Arnold issued the appropriate summonses for the fishing violations encountered to both subjects. Additional Charges on both subjects are pending regarding obstructing a Police Officer in the performance of his duties, after consulting with Buchanan County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
CPO Represents DGIF at National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet – On Saturday, March 10, 2018, CPO Matthew Arnold attended the National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet in Buchanan County. CPO Arnold was on hand to represent the Department and show support for the Buchanan County NWTF chapter. Approximately two-hundred persons were in attendance at the event and Officer Arnold made numerous one on one contacts with local sportsmen and provided answers to numerous questions. Chapter giveaways and auctions during the event, along with local donations; assist to raise money for habitat research and rewards offered for successful prosecutions for violations on a local level.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
CPOs Speak to Rockbridge Homeschool Group – On Thursday, March 01, 2018, CPO L. Fisher spoke to a large group of students with the Rockbridge Homeschool Group. Topics discussed were the job roles of a Conservation Police Officer, wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing and trapping. CPO Fisher had a large display of equipment used by officers in the performance of their duties along with numerous furs used for wildlife identification by the students. The students showed great interest in the topics covered and were very appreciative of CPO Fisher for taking the time to come and talk with them.
31st Annual Western Virginia Sport show in Fishersville Virginia – On February 23 -25 2018 District 42 CPOs , along with Volunteers from the complimentary workforce program hosted an exhibit for the 31st Annual Western Virginia Sport Show in Fishersville, Virginia. The weekend long show provided numerous opportunities for District 42 Officer to talk with the pubic and answer numerous hunting, fishing and boating questions. District CPOs also received numerous “Thank You” comments from the public for our Law enforcement efforts as well as the efforts of the agency as a whole in wildlife conservation.
Pettigrew WMA Dumping – Pettigrew WMA has long suffered from illegal dumping throughout the property. In order to address the issue, CPO Newton placed DGIF trail cameras throughout the WMA in hopes to catch some of the unlawful dumpers. After two weeks, one of the cameras captured a commercial dump truck dumping a large tree in one of the parking areas of the WMA. CPO Newton was able to get the license plate from the truck and contact the owner of the business, who lives a couple of hours from Pettigrew WMA. After questioning the business owner, CPO Newton was able to determine who was driving the truck on that day. After conversations with the worker he admitted to dumping the tree in the parking area. The appropriate charges will be placed.
Missing Elderly Woman from Appomattox County Discovered Driving in Fluvanna County by CPO – On the afternoon of Mar. 9, 2018, CPO Chris Heberling was on patrol in Fluvanna County when he observed a vehicle traveling far below the posted speed limit and failing to maintain the travel lane. Officer Heberling conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and made contact with an elderly female driver. Upon checking the driver’s information, it was discovered that the subject had been reported missing out of Appomattox County, and had been missing for approximately one day. Officer Heberling contacted the Appomattox County Sheriff’s Office and found that the driver had become separated from her son while following him back from Northern Virginia the previous day, and was about to be listed under a Silver Alert. The driver said that she had been driving all night without rest, trying to make it home. CPO Heberling was able to guide family members to their loved one’s location. The driver is now safely at home with relatives. At the time Officer Heberling stopped the subject, she was traveling in the opposite direction from her home, and had been without her needed medication. Without Officer Heberling’s intervention, she could have travelled further from home and been missing much longer.