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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

April 24 – May 28, 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

Officers Apprehend Fleeing Suspects with K9 Assistance – On April 30th 2019 at approximately 10:30pm, CPO Brandon Robinson was responding to a report of anglers keeping out-of-season stripers at Ancarrows Boat Landing. While checking some anglers, Officer Robinson observed two male anglers who appeared to be avoiding him. Officer Robinson approached the anglers and they fled into the woods nearby. Officer Robinson contacted Richmond P.D and asked them to establish a perimeter around the wooded area. He then contacted Officer Patrillo, and requested K9 Bailey’s assistance.   Officer Patrillo responded to the scene and deployed Bailey in the area that Officer Robinson last saw the suspects. Bailey quickly went into profile and began tracking through the wooded area. Bailey led the officers through several hundred yards of extremely thick vegetation that opened up into a parking lot. Once in the parking lot, the officers encountered a Richmond P.D. officer who had joined the pursuit.  The RPD officer explained that he had not seen anyone emerge from the vegetation but the officers decided to take Bailey to the other side of the parking lot in hopes of regaining the track. As soon as the officers deployed Bailey on the other side of the parking lot, Officer Robinson observed movement directly in front of them near the river. The officers engaged two male subjects and quickly determined that they were the fleeing anglers.  The two men were undocumented and both denied fishing. The two did not have any angling equipment with them, but Officer Robinson believed that he saw a fishing pole when the men were fleeing.  Officer Patrillo then took Bailey back to the beginning of the track and deployed her in an area search.  Bailey immediately located a fishing pole hidden in the bushes near the start of the track. Information was gathered from the anglers and charges are pending. K9 Bailey was then redeployed in an area search along the end of the track where she was able to locate a pistol magazine that was pulled off of one of the officer’s duty belts during the pursuit.

First Aid Program – On May 13th, CPO Jordan provided a program for Brownie Troop 5 out of Newport News.  He discussed with them First Aid for Outdoor injuries, conversing with someone who treats injured people and how to prevent and treat outdoor injuries. They were able to earn their First Aid Badge.

Saving Kid’s Dreams – On May 11th CPO Druy, K9 Officer Patrillo, and K9 Bailey participated in the Annual Saving Kids Dreams Event at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. This event encourages kids to be more active in the outdoors and features different activities such as casting fishing poles, archery, target shooting, and other outdoor adventures. Despite the rainy weather over 2,500 kids attended the event. K9 Bailey stole the show with her appearance; kids actively sought her out once word got out she was there. Everyone was impressed with her abilities and skills and thanked both officers for the work they do.  Several kids even stated they wanted to become Conservation Police Officers when they grew up.

CPO Catches Subject with a Gun in Foot Chase – On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at approximately 1225, CPO Justin Chambers was leaving the Baked Bistro in downtown Hampton where he had just met his wife for lunch before court. As they walked out of the restaurant, a woman approached him crying and yelling “Call the police! He’s got a gun on my daughter!” Across the road in the Domestic and Juvenile Court Services Building parking lot, Officer Chambers observed a man yelling at a child in between parked cars. When he saw the officer walking towards him he began ducking in between cars. CPO Chambers made sure the younger woman was ok at which point she confirmed he had a gun.

At that point, Officer Chambers observed him turning the corner and running across the parking lot. Chambers pursued him on foot and advised dispatch of the situation. He lost sight of him around the Bank of America, but regained sight of him when he rounded the corner facing Settler’s Landing Rd. The suspect had put some distance between the two of them, but had stopped in front of the Air and Space Museum to see if he was still being pursued. Officer Chambers then made contact with the subject and ordered him to stop, in which he complied. Officer Chambers placed him in custody at which point a number of HPD officers arrived on scene and secured him in a cruiser. The younger female provided a positive ID that he was the person who had threatened her with a gun. It was determined that the subject had just recently been released from jail and had confronted her about seeing his child whom she was trying to take obtain custody.

Officer Chambers returned to the point where the foot pursuit started and began walking the path with three other HPD officers looking for a firearm. Upon returning to the spot where he regained sight of the subject, they began searching through bushes and trashcans. Officer Chambers looked over a fence where trashcans were stored and observed the silver and black handgun hidden under a small staircase over the fence. HPD recovered the firearm and advised him the firearm returned stolen and the subject was a convicted felon. The firearm is being sent to the lab for DNA testing.

Officer Chambers still made it to court, only five minutes late.

CPO Presents to Cub Scout Troop – On May 11, 2019, CPO Gilmore conducted a presentation for a local Cub Scout pack in Greensville County. The kids were super excited to see and handle the furs, as well as ask questions of a CPO. In addition to the discussing the pelts, Officer Gilmore also touched on outdoor safety and what to do when they encounter a wild animal. Each child left with a goodie bag and a smile!

Long Days of Surveillance Pay Off – Throughout the spring turkey season, CPOs from District 14 conducted surveillance of multiple individuals believed to be hunting turkeys illegally.  Officers conducted over 460 man hours of surveillance which often started at 0330 hours.  District 14 also enlisted the help of officers from District 13 on multiple days to provide coverage.  Officers observed one targeted individual shoot over his yearly bag limit of turkeys.  At the end of turkey season officers executed 3 search warrants and seized numerous turkey parts.  Officers are still sorting through cellular data and records to detect a number of other violations.  Currently, officers have detected 4 tagging violations, 2 exceeding bag limit violations, and 4 hunting after obtaining bag limit violations.  In total, Officers Leftwich, Gilmore, Chitwood, Rollings, D. Smith, Jones, Corley, Druy, Braziel, C. Smith, Wakefield, and Sgt. Woodruff have participated in the surveillance operations.  These officers were able to conduct over 21 days of continuous surveillance on individuals without being detected.

CPOs Assist VMRC in Search for Missing Boaters – On the evening of May 19, 2019, CPOs Bumgarner and Dobyns responded to assist VMRC with a search and rescue for two missing boaters in the Rappahannock River after their boat washed up on shore that evening. The following days Officer Thomas, Officer Morris, Officer Nevel, and Officer Bumgarner continued to conduct searches of the waters and shoreline for the missing boaters. On May 23, 2019, Officers Dobyns and Nevel assisted with the body recovery of both missing boaters bringing some closure to this tragic incident.

James River Boat Patrols Net Illegal Rockfish – On Friday, May 24, 2019, CPOs Rollings, Leftwich, Jones, and Sgt. Woodruff conducted a boating checkpoint on Grays Creek in Surry County.  After the checkpoint the officers headed up and down the James River for patrols.  At approximately 2245 hours, Sgt. Woodruff and Officer Jones came upon a vessel anchored without displaying any lights at the edge of the river channel.  Upon making contact with the boat the subjects stated they were fishing for catfish.  The officers observed an underwater light and rattle traps for bait and found this technique to be rather suspicious for catfishing.  After further investigating the officers found and seized 5 undersized striped bass from the boat.  Shortly afterwards, the officers also discovered a second boat with 2 individuals fishing without licenses.

Lake Chesdin BUI Arrest – On Saturday night, May 25, 2019, CPOs Chittum and Robinson were at the DGIF boat ramp on Lake Chesdin when a boat approached. As the boat approached the ramp, the officers observed the operator switch positions with a passenger. The officers were able to make contact with the initial operator, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. After submitting the subject to a battery of field sobriety testing, the subject was arrested by Officer Chittum for BUI. The subject was transported to the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office where he blew a .10 in the Intoxilyzer. The appropriate charges were placed.

Drowning Victim Recovered With the Help of Several Agencies – On May 25, 2019, CPOs from District 15 received a call concerning a child that had fallen from a boat and went under the water and had not resurfaced.  When responding, it was discovered that an individual had left the boat voluntarily to swim.  It appeared a man and his nephew were swimming when the child began struggling and was rescued by a family member from the boat.  When they turned around, the 37 year old male had gone under and had not resurfaced.  Officers from DGIF, New Kent Sheriff’s Office, New Kent Fire & Rescue, James City County Fire & Rescue all responded to assist.  One dive was made before darkness and officials suspended the operation until the following morning.  The following morning, Officer Druy brought the agency’s sonar device from District 13.   With the help of the this device, which is a sonar emitting torpedo that is pulled behind a vessel, and aid of VSP divers, a recovery was made the following morning helping to bring closure to the family.

Repeat Offenders – On May 26, 2019, CPOs Joshua Thomas and Dan Rabago setup a boating safety checkpoint at Jackson Creek in Middlesex County. During the checkpoint a small skiff was inspected. Both the operator and passenger of the skiff were under age 21. After noticing the nervous actions of the operator, the CPOs asked what was in a large cooler on the boat. The operator admitted there was alcohol in the cooler. The officers found the cooler to contain 37 beers and a partially consumed bottle of vodka. Both the operator and passenger had previous DWI charges and had both been charged with underage possession of alcohol. The appropriate charges were placed on both subjects.

CPOs Conduct Checkpoint at Boat Ramp – On Sunday, May 26, 2019, CPOs Gilmore, Rollings, and Sgt. Woodruff conducted a boating checkpoint on the Nottoway River in Southampton County at the Rt. 258 boat ramp.  The officers inspected approximately 30 boats during the checkpoint.  During the checkpoint officers conducted field sobriety tests on multiple individuals.  One boat entered the checkpoint displaying an expired registration.  Upon further inspection officers discovered the boat did not contain enough PFDs for the passengers aboard.  After completing the boat inspection the occupants attempted to load the boat onto the trailer.  When the individual backed his truck down the ramp next to the officers, they detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the passenger compartment.  The officers conducted a search of the vehicle and discovered marijuana, multiple smoking devices, and alcohol.  Since the individuals involved were not old enough to possess alcohol it was seized.  One individual admitted that they were going to “throw down tonight” if the officers had not intervened with his plans.

Region II – Southside

Fisherman Charged with Drug Possession – On April 27, 2019, CPOs Nick Sumner and Kevin Webb were conducting a boat patrol on Briery Creek Lake in Prince Edward County when they observed several subjects fishing from the bank.  The officers strategically moored their patrol boat and approached the subjects on foot.  They made contact and began inspecting fishing licenses.  While interacting with one of the subjects, CPO Sumner detected the odor commonly associated with burning marijuana on or about his person.  Sumner questioned the subject with his observation which resulted in him removing a baggie of marijuana and a smoking device from his pocket.  The evidence was seized and the appropriate charges placed.

K9 Helps in Catching Trespassing Hunter – On April 13, 2019, CPO Nick Belotte received a trespass to hunt call in Charlotte County.  The complainant was working a turkey and got within a 100 yards of the bird when it was shot and killed by an unknown trespassing person.  Officer Richard Howald and K9 Sky were contacted to assist in locating the location of the turkey feathers, wadding, and shotgun shell.  Later that morning, a man, at an adjacent property, was observed with a turkey behind his house.  Officer Belotte interviewed him and confirmed that he had killed a turkey around the same time as the complaint.  The suspect took Officer Belotte to the location where he said the turkey was killed.  There was no sign of a turkey being killed in that area.  Shortly thereafter, Officer Belotte was able to get a confession that the suspect trespassed onto the posted property to kill the turkey.  The appropriate charges were placed.

Trespassing Story Unravels – On April 17, 2019, CPOs Toby Livermore and Shane Wilson received a call about a possible turkey hunter trespassing in Brunswick County.  Upon arrival, the officers located a tan Chevy single cab truck, with a dog box in the back, and a distinguishable personalized license plate.  Officer Livermore had received numerous calls about this same vehicle riding around the back roads, and scouting for turkeys on land that he had no permission to hunt.  Officers Livermore and Wilson staked out the vehicle.  After approximately 3.5 hours of patiently waiting, the turkey hunter finally stepped out the woods. The hunter was out of breath, sweating, and had an extremely red face, all consistent with having walked a long way.  Upon questioning him, the hunter initially stated that he had been hunting the cutover all morning, and stated that he was sitting at the base of a pine tree and pointed to it. Officers Livermore and Wilson asked the hunter if he would show them where he was hunting, and the hunter complied.  The hunter took the officers on a very long route to his “pine tree.”  Once they arrived on scene, the hunter pointed to a tree and told the officers that he had been sitting.  At the bottom of the tree was a very large fire ant hill, and no signs of human activity.  Officers Livermore and Wilson began to interview the hunter again, and soon obtained a confession that he had heard a turkey gobble on the property behind him, (all of which belongs to another hunt club, and had no permission to be on the property) and that he had walked onto that property to try to stalk the bird.  Appropriate charges have been placed.

Serial Poacher – CPO John Daniel was monitoring the hunting activity of some of the known poachers in Amherst County that were usually more active during spring turkey season.  Turkey hunters are allow three turkeys each year.  By the second Saturday of the season, he discovered that one of them, whom his district receives the most complaints on this time of year, had killed at least two turkeys that had not been checked in.  This individual is known for trespassing and killing over the limit of turkeys, so it appeared he was again planning to exceed the bag limit, having two turkeys within the first week that were not checked in.  Officer Daniel expanded his investigation to some of the suspect’s hunting buddies and found that they too had killed turkeys and had not checked them in and one of them had been hunting with the main suspect.  Officer Daniel found the suspect at his home and when questioned about any turkeys he had killed he explained that he had actually killed three turkeys that week.  Officer Daniel then asked about them not being checked in and he came up with various excuses for why he had not checked in three turkeys on three different days including the one he had just killed that morning.  He had also not notched any tags, which was required for at least one of the birds.  The thing that made the situation even worse is that the suspect just had his hunting privilege reinstated after having them revoked by the court for a year for violations the previous season and years before.  CPO Daniel continued his investigation into the suspect’s hunting partners as well and charges have now been placed and are pending on all three individuals.

Career Day – On April 12, 2019 CPOs Keith Wilson and Shane Wilson attended a career day at Blue Stone Middle School in Mecklenburg County.  This was a day for the middle school students to ask questions and get an inside look at their options as to what they can do for a job when they graduate from High School.  There were several students who stopped by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries table eager to talk and that were interested in a career as a Conservation Police Officer.

Annual Outdoors Kids Day – On April 20, 2019 CPOs Toby Livermore, Tyler Blanks and Shane Wilson were invited to Lake Gaston Church of God in Brunswick County for their Annual outdoor kid’s day. There were several things for the kids to do such as, Easter egg hunt, BB gun target shooting, archery, and a turkey shoot. Most importantly the kids got to speak with their local Conservation Police Officers and ask questions or come to the table to visit the fur display or to get a sticker and a whistle.

Search and Rescue Assistance – On April 11, 2019, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office received a call that a body had been found in the James River.  Sgt. Slaughter along with CPO’s Cory Harbour, Andrew Howald, Steven Ritchie, and John Daniels, responded to the scene to assist with recovery efforts.  The body was later identified as a missing suicidal subject out of Lynchburg who had been searched for earlier in the month by District 22 CPO’s.

Franklin County Kid’s Fishing Day – On April 13, 2019, CPO Brett Clawson attended a Kids Fishing Day at Woody Pond that was organized by the Franklin County Parks and Recreation Department.  Even though the weather kept some families away, there were still plenty of kids out enjoying the good trout fishing!

Storms Bring Search and Rescue Efforts – On April 19, 2019, two tornados touched down in the region.  An EF3 in Franklin County and an EF1 in Bedford County.  These tornados destroyed homes and caused large amounts of damage throughout area. Sgt. Slaughter, along with CPO’s James Hale and Eric Dotterer, assisted in search and rescue efforts for victims and identified potential hazards such as down power lines.  Thankfully, no fatalities were reported due of the storms.

Patrick County Kid’s Fishing Day – On Saturday, April 20, 2019, Patrick County CPO Dale Owens conducted the first annual Kids Fish Day.  It was a great start to an annual event as there were 60 kids present and over half caught their limit.  A lot of positive feedback was provided and the local residents are looking forward to not only the next event, but taking advantage of visiting several local trout streams.

Trespassing to Fish by Boat – On April 20, 2019, CPO Matt Thomas received a call that there was a subject tying his boat off to several different docks and fishing from them on Smith Mountain Lake.  The caller provided a detailed description of the subject and his boat.  CPO Thomas responded by land while CPO’s Clawson and Smith responded by water.  The subject was located fishing on a dock in the area with his boat tied to it.  He advised that he thought he was allowed to since it was not posted. The subject received a summons for trespassing and was arrested on a capias.

Not Hunting Exotic Birds – On April 20, 2019, CPO Matt Thomas followed up on a hunting spot where he had found bait the week before.  When he arrived, he found a subject hunting the spot.  The subject had a proper hunting license, written permission, and advised that he was the only one that had permission to hunt the area.  When questioned about the bait, the subject advised that he raised exotic birds and that he put the bait out for them.  The subject later admitted to knowing the laws against hunting over bait and was charged appropriately.

Chevy vs Ford Argument Goes Bad – On April 22, 2019, Sgt. Slaughter and CPO Neel assisted Bedford County with a barricaded subject.  The suspect had gotten into an intense argument with his girlfriend and her adult son over the topic “Chevy vs Ford” which resulted in him pulling a knife and then later a handgun.  He shot his girlfriend five times, her son once and a third individual who was just visiting.  Sgt. Slaughter and CPO Neel strategically placed themselves around the residence to ensure the suspect who barricaded himself inside the building did not leave until the BSCO SWAT Team arrived.  The suspect eventually walked outside the door enough that he could be subdued by non-lethal force.  While all the injuries incurred are serious in nature, everyone is expected to recover.

Driving Behavior Results in DUI Arrest – On May 2, 2019, CPO Toby Livermore was in-route to assist Officer Tyler Blanks with an over the limit turkey case.  While on Highway 58, in Brunswick County, Officer Livermore was passing a vehicle that was traveling slowly in the right lane of travel.  While making the pass, the other vehicle swerved across the dotted line almost striking his patrol vehicle.  Officer Livermore slowed down, fell in behind the vehicle, and began to follow him.  He observed the vehicle swerve over the dotted centerline twice and the solid white line once, and was constantly floating back and forth within his lane of travel.  Officer Livermore conducted a traffic stop.  Upon approaching the operator, he could smell a very strong odor commonly associated with alcohol.  Officer Livermore asked the driver how much he had to drink that morning, and the driver originally said he had not drank anything.  Officer Livermore asked him to step out of his vehicle, escorted him to the back, where he performed HGN.  The suspect was asked to perform several field sobriety tests.  All of the tests were performed very poorly. The suspect was offered a PBT, with a result of .14.  The suspect was taken into custody for DUI and transported to the Meherrin River Regional Jail.  While at the jail, the suspect refused the breath test.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Failing to Stop, and Running from CPO’s During Decoy Operation, Turns into a Lengthy Investigation – On October 28, 2018, a vehicle stopped and spotlighted a location where District 21 officers had deployed a decoy deer.  The occupant(s) shot multiple times before taking off and driving away at high speeds.  After a short distance, the decision to stand down was made.  Refusing to give up on identifying the suspect(s), the district CPOs went to work and were eventually able to identify the suspect who was operating the vehicle.  On March 4, 2019, Sgt. Slaughter, along with CPO’s Brett Clawson, Tyler Routon, and James A. Hale, responded to a residence in Franklin County and located the individual who had eluded them on October 28th.  The suspect admitted to being the operator of the vehicle and described the entire event in detail.  He also identified the passenger who was in the vehicle at the time.  Based upon information they received about the vehicle, the CPO’s decided that they would let it be repossessed rather than seizing it.

After concluding the decoy investigation, and while waiting on the tow truck, CPO Clawson smelled marijuana coming from the residence.  Sgt. Slaughter and Clawson immediately left and traveled to the magistrate to obtain a search warrant.  As a result, narcotics, stolen firearms, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia were located.  All narcotics have been sent to the DFS Lab and multiple felonies are pending those lab results.

On March 16, 2019, CPO’s Clawson and Routon received information relating to the whereabouts of the passenger who was still avoiding arrest.  Based on this information, and other investigatory findings, they decided to arrange to make a traffic stop on the vehicle.  That evening, Clawson and Routon worked along with the Virginia State Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a traffic stop.  The suspect was taken into custody.  An additional charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm was issued along with numerous offenses as a result of the spotlighting operation.

On April 23, 2019, while traveling by the wanted subject’s house, CPO Clawson noticed a vehicle pulling out from the residence and travel down to a local pawn shop.  Clawson observed the father of the wanted suspect, a known convicted felon, exit the vehicle along with another individual holding a rifle. Clawson again confirmed the individual was a convicted felon and requested CPO Routon back him up. After the individual exited the store, Clawson and Routon conducted a traffic stop where he was taken into custody and charged appropriately.

On April 27, 2019, CPO’s Clawson and Routon received information that the wanted suspect was currently staying with a friend in Franklin County.  After arriving at the residence and speaking with the owner, the suspect eventually stepped out without incident.  He was taken into custody and later said that he was getting tired of constantly looking over his shoulder.  He was charged for felony evasion along with numerous other hunting related charges.

Wildlife Poacher Apprehended – On May 2, 2019, CPO Tyler Blanks received information of an individual harvesting over his limit of turkey in Mecklenburg County.  Blanks interviewed the subject and he confessed to killing five turkeys during the 2019 season and seven during the 2018 season.  The hunter produced his hunting license which showed that none of the turkeys had been checked, however, one deer tag had been notched and validated.  The subject was questioned about the deer he harvested during the previous season.  After a lengthy interview, he confessed to killing three bucks and failing to tag two of them.  The subject consented to a search of his freezer and refrigerator where the meat was stored and provided details as to where each turkey was killed.  The poacher was charged with exceeding bag limits, hunting after obtaining bag limits, unlawful possession, failing to check turkeys, and failing to check deer.

Shooting from the Roadway – On April 23, 2019, CPOs Shannon Smith and Matt Thomas received a call from the Botetourt Sheriff’s Office regarding a subject shooting a turkey from the roadway.  A sheriff’s deputy had responded and made contact with the subject and had taken possession of the turkey.  CPO Thomas arrived and spoke with a witness, who saw the turkey shot from the road.  He then talked with the suspect who admitted to shooting the turkey from the roadway and while being on property he did not have permission to hunt.  Appropriate charges were obtained.

CPO’s Assist Sheriff’s Office – On April 24, 2019, CPO’s in Districts 21 and 22 responded to assist the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office with a wanted subject who fled and jumped into Smith Mountain Lake.  CPO Clawson responded by water while CPO Thomas, CPO Routon and Sgt. Slaughter responded by land.  While officers were in-route, deputies advised that individuals on a bass boat were circling him trying to get him onboard but he was refusing to board their vessel.  The subject kept going under the water and appeared to be struggling but eventually came ashore and was placed into custody.

Early Bird Gets the Worm – Over the course of the past two weeks, multiple complaints have come in from the Franklin County Parks and Recreation Department about two known narcotics users illegally camping and fishing on their property.  The two offenders routinely would get to their fishing spot around mid-night and would leave around 0600 hours before the park would open.

On April 27, 2019, at approximately 5:40am, CPO Clawson observed the suspect’s vehicle parked at the usual spot.  After making contact, one of the individuals was fishing without a license and in possession of a bag that had marijuana inside.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Testing the Trout Waters – On May 1, 2019, CPO Bruce Young was patrolling below the Martinsville Dam in the Ridgeway section of the Smith River, in Henry County, when he observed a suspicious vehicle near one of the river’s access points.  CPO Young located and observed a subject make a cast into the water, walk his fishing rod back into the wood line, and prop it on a stick.  CPO Young announced his presence to perform a fishing compliance check.  The subject initially denied fishing, but after being caught red-handed, he accepted and was issued a summons for fishing without a license, at approximately 3:30 P.M.

Approximately three hours later, at about 6:20pm, CPO Young worked his way down to the Designated Trout Stocked Waters in the Fieldale section of the Smith River. He immediately recognized the same subject’s vehicle parked at the turn-around of a dead-end road near the river.  As he exited his vehicle, he heard a splash in the water.  As he moved toward where he heard the splash, he observed ripples going out into the water.  CPO Young found the same subject hiding under the water at the shoreline, with only his head resting on the bank.  CPO Young responded, “I take it you didn’t go buy a license if you’re willing to hide in 55 Degree Water”.  The subject cooperated, and stated that his wife had told him that the Game Warden never checks this spot, but she was wrong.  Additional Charges were placed.

Training for Local Jurisdictions on SML – On Monday, May 6, 2019, Region 2 CPOs provided boat training and instruction for the Franklin County and Bedford County Sheriff’s offices.  Eighteen deputies were on hand and received classroom instruction as well as on-water training from our officers.  The training was a great collaboration between all agencies involved.

CPO Meet and Greet – On May 5, 2019, CPO Dale Owens participated, on behalf of the Department, in the Scruggs Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department meet and greet in Moneta.  This event encourages local residents around the lake to attend and ask questions.  This event has already resulted in many other requests for additional opportunities for Conservation Police Officers to give presentations in an effort to increase boating safety awareness on Smith Mountain Lake.

Waters Made Safer for Boaters; Intoxicated Operator Removed – On May 10, 2019, Conservation Police Officers Toby Livermore, Tyler Blanks, and Shane Wilson were on boat patrol at Poplar Creek, on Lake Gaston, in Mecklenburg County, when they observed a boat traveling south towards the main part of the lake with its docking lights illuminated.  Since this was after sunset, they proceeded to stop the vessel for having unapproved lighting on while underway.  As Officer Wilson made contact with the operator, he could smell the odor commonly associated with alcohol.  He asked the operator for his boater’s safety card and boat registration.  Next Wilson asked him to show him the safety equipment on board the vessel.  Officer Wilson had to repeat himself several times for the safety equipment.  Wilson then conducted several standard field sobriety tests in which the operator performed poorly.  Officer Wilson then offered the operator a preliminary breath test (PBT) in which he blew a .15.  Officer Wilson placed the operator under arrest for operating a motor boat under the influence of alcohol.  The subject was transported to Meherrin River Regional Jail, in Mecklenburg County, where he provided a breath sample of .11.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Region III – Southwest

Killing Spree Comes to an End – CPO Boyette made the final charges in a case involving the illegal killing of multiple deer during 2018 in Carroll County. During the summer and fall of 2018 Officer Boyette received several complaints regarding deer being spotlighted and killed in the Dugspur area of Carroll County. He initially conducted spotlight patrols in the area in response to these complaints, but was unable to catch the poachers in the act. On November 4, Officers Akers and Boyette were in this area when they received a report of a vehicle that had just shot at a deer from the road just a few miles away. They responded to the area but were unable to find the vehicle. About two weeks later, Officer Boyette again received information that a deer had been shot and killed in this same area. This time however, there was a vehicle description and a name of a possible suspect. Officer Boyette was able to locate the suspect in the agency’s license system and then to confirm that he had a vehicle registered in his name matching the vehicle description given by the caller. On November 18, 2018, Officers Akers and Boyette were on their way to the suspect’s residence to speak with him, when they observed a vehicle parked by the road in a suspicious location. They approached the vehicle and found that the suspect they were going to see was the driver. He agreed to speak with officers and soon admitted to being involved with the spotlighting and killing of several deer on the night in question. During the interview he told officers of how he and several other individuals had illegally killed multiple deer during the summer and fall of 2018. Officers spoke with the other suspects that evening and found that they had killed five deer on the evening of November 16, four of which had been taken by spotlight. Two of the suspects admitted to shooting at a deer on November 4, the night that they officers had responded to the nearby complaint. Violations on these two nights involved spotlighting, shooting from vehicles on the roadway, trespassing, hunting without licenses, illegal dumping of carcasses, and the killing of deer with a rifle during the muzzleloader season. The individuals estimated that they had killed 10-15 deer illegally during the previous months, many of which they simply left laying where they shot them. The subjects were each charged with multiple offenses, bringing to a close a killing spree that had spanned months and robbed opportunity for legal harvest and use of numerous deer by Virginia hunters.

Employer Networking Event – On Friday, April 26th CPO Tyler Sheets attended an employer networking event at Emory & Henry College in Glade Spring. This was part of Ampersand Day, an annual event at the College, held on campus that allows students to showcase their work in front of potential employers. Officer Sheets made multiple contacts with potential CPO Applicants at the event.

Dog Days – On Saturday, April 27th CPOs James Brooks, Tyler Sheets, Wes Billings, and K9 Josey attended Dog Days at Cabela’s in Bristol, VA. The Officers set up a display at the family event and answered questions regarding hunting, fishing, and boating from those attending. The event and the officers’ display were visited by a multitude of shoppers and event enthusiasts.

Boater Education Class in Bristol – On Saturday, May 4, 2019, CPO Tyler Sheets assisted volunteer Boating Education Instructors with a Boater Education Course held at Cabela’s in Bristol, VA. There were eleven students in attendance and receiving their certifications at the conclusion of the course.

CPOs Go the Extra Mile – On Saturday April 27, 2019, Sgt. Koloda and CPO Peake worked an evening boat shift on Claytor Lake. Afterwards, the pair turned their attention to a piece of private property in Pulaski County where the landowner has complained about continuous trespassing and littering issues.  At approximately 10:30 pm, the CPO’s heard a truck pass their hidden location and travel up the mountain.  The pair followed the truck’s direction of travel and found fresh vehicle tracks driving onto the posted property. The path the suspect truck had taken is a heavily rutted up road, with numerous bottomless mud holes.  Both CPO’s walked about a mile along the top of the mountain following the trail, in the darkness, and located 3 trucks parked in a secluded location. After surprising the group with their presence, both CPO’s introduced themselves and determined none of the 6 subjects had permission to be on the property. The owner of 1 of the trucks had gotten stuck in a deep mud hole and admittedly littered numerous beer bottles throughout the woods.  They had left a fire burning in the area and were directed to go back and put the fire out completely.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Tazwell County Kid’s Fishing Day – On Saturday, May 4, 2019, the Tazewell County “Kid’s Fishing Day” event was held in Tazewell County on Lake Witten in Cavitt’s Creek Park. Senior Conservation Police Officer James Brooks was on scene at the event and noted that over (150) children and adults were in attendance despite threatening weather. Several agencies and multiple first responders from Tazewell County assisted in conducting programs for the youth and the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office assisted with traffic control. The event was successful with everyone attending observed having good time fishing and visiting with each other.

9th Annual Bland County Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt – On April 25-27, the 9th Annual Bland County Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt took place with (8) veterans participating in the 3 day hunt.  Senior CPO George Shupe and his wife, Becky, coordinated the event.  The veterans participating in this year’s event ranged from the Vietnam War to the War in Afghanistan.  All the veterans and volunteers at the event enjoyed lots of great food, comradery, and most importantly, spending time in the woods turkey hunting.  Overall, the event was a great success, with all hunters observing turkeys, with two of the vets being able to successfully bag a long beard, one of which harvested his first bird on the second day of the event.

Scott County Kid’s Fishing Day – On April 27, 2019 Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant James Hale, Senior Officer Daniel Ross, and Officer Derrick Rickels attended the 24th Annual Scott County Kid’s Fishing Day at Natural Tunnel State Park on Stock Creek. Several volunteers assisted in the trout stocking before the event began. Over 100 kids attended the event and several kids caught their limit of nice trout quickly. Every child was given a new rod a reel, tackle box, and several different lures and bait. Snacks, sandwiches and drinks were provided and available for all in attendance.

Patrol Leads to Drug Arrest – On April 27, 2019 Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ross was patrolling for turkey hunters and fishermen along the Clinch River in Scott County.  Officer Ross observed a vehicle parked at a popular fishing spot.  Officer Ross observed the driver of the vehicle acting very strange and upon exiting the vehicle Officer Ross noticed the passenger slumped over onto the passenger door.  Officer Ross approached the driver and noticed indicators for drug use.  The driver stated there was some paraphernalia inside the vehicle.  Further search found the paraphernalia along with a rather large bag of marijuana, pills and meth. Officer Ross had the driver conduct field sobriety tests in which he conducted poorly and was subsequently arrested for DUID, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Schedule II (meth). The passenger was charged with possession of Marijuana.

Kayakers with No PFDs Cited – While patrolling the Powell River in Lee County, Virginia CPO Matt Meade observed two men on kayaks floating the river. Upon making contact with them neither of them had a PFD on board, so he informed them they would be receiving a summons for these violations. At that point one of the men started to become aggressive and mouthy. Officer Meade informed him he was not free to leave and needed to come up on the bank to receive a summons. The subject then pushed off the bank and began paddling down the river and ignoring all commands. Officer Meade took the other subject’s information and asked where they were taking out at. He said “the swinging bridge” Officer Meade told him to continue his float and he would meet him at the take out. Based on the first subject’s demeanor, Officer Meade contacted Lee County S.O. for assistance. Once Officer Meade and the deputy arrived at the take out point they waited for approximately 20 minutes before the suspects arrived. He then made contact again and immediately noticed the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from both men. They both stated they had been drinking beer, but the non-cooperative man stated he was only 18. Due to the slurred speech, blood shot eyes, and his demeanor Officer Meade placed him under arrest for public intoxication. He then released the other on a summons for no PFD and proceeded to Lee County Magistrates office with the intoxicated subject. Appropriate charges were placed.

CPOs Assist Scott County Sheriff’s Office in Officer Involved Shooting – On May 1, 2019 Senior CPO D. Ross along with CPO D. Rickels assisted Scott County Sheriff’s Office on a mutual aid assistance in reference to an officer involved shooting. The suspect had been stopped for possible DUI and exited his vehicle with a firearm and fired upon the officer. He then led them on a chase to the Hiltons section of Scott County where the suspect abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. Deputies discovered over one pound of methamphetamine in the suspect’s abandoned vehicle.  Officers Ross and Rickels assisted with perimeter security, tracking and searching for suspect.  Deputies later located and challenged the suspect who responded by raising a handgun and was subsequently shot and killed.

Illegal Bear Kill Investigation Solved – On April 30, 2019, Senior CPO Phillips received information about a bear that had been killed, gutted, its claws cut off and dumped in a residential area in the Town of Pulaski.  Officer Phillips called Senior CPO Billings to assist and they went to the area.  The officers canvased the neighborhood asking for any information about how the bear had been killed but nobody knew anything.  Several days later, Officer Phillips received a call from a woman that lived nearby that had heard a man in the neighborhood shot a bear and cut its claws off.  Officer Phillips, Sgt. Koloda, and Officer Billings located the man who had been accused of shooting the bear and questioned him.  The suspect admitted to killing the bear, cutting its claws off, and dumping the bear. The suspect had buried the bear claws in the yard when he heard CPO’s were investigating the kill. Additional violations were uncovered during the investigation including an illegal turkey kill and illegal possession of deer meat.  Appropriate charges were placed.

Hunting Over Bait – On the opening day of turkey season CPO Boyette was on patrol in Carroll County when he encountered two hunters at a parked UTV. They told him that they and their friends had come to the area to turkey hunt together. Officer Boyette noted that there was corn on the back of their UTV and asked the men about it. They stated that there had been feeders at the location they were hunting but they had been taken down and all the corn was gone. They agreed to take Officer Boyette to the location and show him that all the corn was gone and the men walked a short distance to a clearing where they had a ground blind set up. About 20 yards in front of the blind there was corn scattered on the ground in the location where the men said the feeder had been. They admitted that they knew the corn had been there even though they were not sure it was still there that morning. At the house where all the men were staying, Officer Boyette met three more hunters that had been hunting on the property. They too agreed to show the officer the locations they had been hunting, each of which was also baited with corn. Each of the hunters was charged with hunting over bait.

Montgomery County Kid’s Fishing Day – On Saturday May 4, 2019, CPOs Lee Wensel, Gene Wirt, Wes Billings, K9 Josie, and Sergeant John Koloda hosted the Montgomery County Kids Fishing Day held at Pandapas Pond.  The CPOs partnered with U.S. Forest Service employees, and Brad Buchannan with Montgomery County Parks and Recreation, for another successful event. There were over 225 people in attendance with 120 of those being active fishing participants.  Prizes were awarded for biggest fish, second biggest fish, and third biggest fish.  Ten raffle prizes were also awarded. Drinks and hot dogs were provided for the crowd.   The event concluded with many successful fishermen with lots of smiles and memories.

CPOs Work with Several Agencies to Investigate Horrific Attack Along the Appalachian Trail – On Saturday, May 11th,  at approximately 0520 hours, District 33 Conservation Police Sergeant Daniel Hall was notified by DGIF Dispatch of a request for assistance from DGIF Conservation Police Officers through Smyth County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch by U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Chris Ramey related to a search for victims as related to an assault on hikers by an assailant, occurring on the Appalachian Hiking Trail in the area of Davis Valley in Smyth County, extending into Bland County, off Route 42, near the Ceres community. After Sergeant Hall’s arrival at the mobile command site along the Appalachian Trail in Davis Valley, it was learned that the assailant had attacked a man and woman in the early morning hours at their campsite along the Trail in the Crawfish Valley area of Wythe County. It was also found that the assailant had committed the attack with the use of edged weapons, leaving both the male and female hiker severely wounded. The female hiker, though severely injured in the attack, managed to escape the assailant and make her way back south on the trail during the night, a distance of approximately (6) miles where she came into contact with another group of hikers at an overnight shelter located in the Davis Valley area of the Trail. The hikers made contact with authorities in Smyth County to report the incident. A short time later in the morning, the assailant was found, and placed into custody by members of the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Response Unit, near the location of the attack in Wythe County.

During the incident, U.S. Forest Service requested that DGIF Conservation Police accompany volunteer search and rescue personnel along remote sections of the Appalachian Trail, south of the incident site, to search for possible other, unknown victims of the assailant, which may have encountered him prior to the attack. Sergeant Hall coordinated with CPO’s responding from Districts 31, 32, and 33 to carry out duties as requested during the incident. Conservation Police Officers Tyler Sheets, Jim Anders, Matt Akers, Craig Chillcott, Ben Boyette, Troy Phillips, Mark Brewer, and K-9 Officer Wes Billings assisted with or led individual groups of volunteer search and rescue personnel on foot, clearing approximately (15-20) miles of the Trail and interviewing and notifying hikers encountered, that the Trail was closed in the area due to the incident. CPO Akers, utilizing District 32’s ATV, assisted U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Wythe County Rescue Personnel, and Wythe County Sheriff’s Office personnel at the incident scene, providing transportation of equipment to and from the scene to process evidence. As reported by news agencies, a spokesman for the Department of Justice stated on Sunday, May 12th; the 30 year old assailant identified in the incident, faces federal charges that include murder and assault with the intent to murder.

Buchanan County Kid’s Fishing Day – On Saturday, May 13th, 2019, CPO Matthew Arnold assisted with the Annual Buchanan County Kids Fishing Day. Approximately 150 kids attended and were able to catch multiple trout in the designated stocked trout waters of the Dismal River. Many prizes, including a hover board for the biggest fish, were given away as well as food and drinks at the event. Officer Arnold tied and baited numerous fishing hooks and assisted numerous children at the event with casting techniques. Initially, the rain kept many families and participants away from the event, but when the weather finally cleared, a large turnout of parents and kids showed up at the event, just in time to allow many to realize the true meaning for the Kid’s Fishing Day – “Allow kids the opportunity to experience and develop a passion for fishing, at their own pace and with the support from, and not in competition with; adults”.

CPO Conducts Boating Exhibit – On Wednesday, May 11, 2019, Senior CPO James Brooks conducted a Boating exhibit and educational event at Wal-Mart of Claypool Hill in Tazewell County. Senior Officer Brooks displayed the new District 33 marked patrol boat and gave safety tips to approximately 100 individuals visiting the store. Kayaks and safety equipment were also on display, providing educational examples to boaters and “would be” boaters and enthusiasts, of the proper equipment to have on board their vessels. Senior Officer Brooks fielded questions related to hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor related activities while maintaining the exhibit. Later, the event was moved indoors as heavy rain set in. Despite the weather, the event was successful and Wal-Mart has indicated a desire for future events.

Floyd County Kid’s Fishing Day – CPO Mark Brewer attended the 12th Annual Floyd County Kids Fishing Day held on Saturday, May 11, 2019.  Over 100 young anglers turned out for the event.  There was a free lunch offered to all, as well as numerous door prizes of fishing equipment and other outdoor gear. Trophies were awarded for biggest fish overall, as well as for the top three big fish across several different age categories.

Teamwork Helps Achieve DGIFs Mission – On May 13, 2019, CPOs from District 32 to include Sgt. Keene, CPO Rorabaugh, CPO Akers, and K9 Officer Billings organized and provided an attendance reward day for Fort Chiswell Middle School at Rural Retreat Lake in Wythe County.  The officers partnered with Region 3 biologists and staff from the wildlife and fish division and also received assistance from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  The goal of the program was to provide an incentive for students to attend school.  The officers attended classes and participated in workshops designed to engage and teach over three hundred students outdoor skills prior to this event.  Sixty students were selected to attend the reward day at the lake where they were given the opportunity to fish, kayak, hike, and shoot a bow.  Region fish division personnel, through the use of their shocking boat, demonstrated to the students what type of fish lived in the lake.  Region wildlife biologist taught the students about local wildlife and plant species.  K9 Josie demonstrated her ability to find hidden game meat and interacted with the students.  Complimentary workforce volunteers were also on hand to assist and teach the students.  At the end of the day, all of the students received their very own fishing pole with hopes they will become lifelong anglers.  They also received various prizes including fishing tackle and outdoor gear.  The event demonstrated a high level of teamwork in the region to achieve the department’s mission of connecting and teaching the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

Kid’s Fishing Day in Smyth County – On Saturday May 18th, CPO Tyler Sheets and Sergeant Dan Hall assisted with the 25th Annual Kid’s Fishing Day event held on the South Fork of the Holston River at the Riverside Community Center in Smyth County. There were (40) registered anglers, (12) years of age and younger, participating in the event. All in attendance enjoyed a beautiful morning, a hot dog lunch, and most of the young fishermen were able to catch a few fish as well. The NWTF was there with their mobile shooting range which provided even more fun for the participants. Thanks go out once again to Riverside Ruritan Club for hosting the event and providing a substantial opportunity to enjoy a great breakfast and lunch for all in attendance, as well as all the volunteer prize donors with providing great fishing oriented gifts for every child registered and in attendance at the event.

“Trail Days” – During May 16 – 18, 2019, District 33 CPOs Matthew Arnold, Tyler Sheets, Joel Early, and George Shupe assisted the U.S. Forest Service on request, as well as the Town of Damascus Police Department, and Washington County Sheriff’s Office personnel with the Annual (Appalachian) “Trail Days” event held each year in the Town of Damascus and surrounding areas of the Jefferson National Forest. Each year, thousands of hikers attend the event celebrating the Appalachian Trail. Individuals from across the country attend this multiple day event where food, singing, and an appreciation for the outdoors are the focus. Also, a candlelight vigil was held for the recent loss of a hiker, related to a horrific attack on the Appalachian Trail in Southwest Virginia. CPO’s assisted with checkpoints and safety patrols to enforce the protection of the hikers. The policing of the event was a huge success with only minor issues with alcohol and drugs detected at this year’s event.

CPOs Locate Wanted Subject – On May 23, 2019, Sgt. Koloda and CPO Peake began working on a trespass/littering investigation in hopes of locating a suspect.  CPO Peake had previously searched through some litter and located several names and receipts from the local Wal-Mart.  He worked with employees there in order to obtain surveillance footage of the suspect purchasing spray paint and other items he had found on the posted property. The CPO’s traveled to a possible residence where they observed a small car sitting in the driveway that had obviously been spray painted-including windows and light lenses!! A shirtless male, matching the Wal-Mart photos, was seen walking around the garage area when the CPO’s pulled in and quickly walked into the home.  CPO’s began speaking with the female homeowner and asked about the identity of the male subject. At that time, a neighbor walked over to the group and asked if anyone was looking for the guy that just ran through her yard and jumped the fence.  Additional reports of the man running through the neighborhood were confirmed.  The homeowner identified the suspect by name and CPO’s were able to determine he was wanted for a Parole Violation for distribution of narcotics and brandishing a firearm.  The homeowner gave the CPO’s consent to search the suspect’s bedroom area.  CPO’s immediately noted marijuana on a dresser top in plain view. A plastic baggie containing suspected methamphetamine was found under a refrigerator and several smoking devices were located hidden above ceiling tiles.  CPO Peake also discovered a safe matching the description of a box he had found at the dump site.  A search warrant was obtained and served later in the evening.  Additional narcotic materials and rifle bullets were seized as part of the search warrant.  Appropriate charges will be filed.

Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Fredericksburg Kids Fishing Day – On Saturday April 13, 2019, CPOs from District 45 and District Fisheries Biologist Mike Isel participated in the 12th annual Kids Trout Fishing Day at Old Cossey Pond in the City of Fredericksburg.  There were 81 children that attended the event, and they caught 41 trout, several bluegill, a few crappie and a catfish.  The children that attended were treated to free donuts and a hot dog lunch.  There were multiple door prizes of fishing poles and tackle boxes that was awarded to the participants.  Four resident lifetime fishing license were awarded to those children that caught the biggest fish each hour.

Rockingham County Kids Fishing Day – On April 28, 2019, CPO Ostlund and Senior CPO Kester attended the Rockingham County Kids Fishing Day, held at Silver Lake.  The event was very well attended, and many youth were able to catch and land fish, despite the windy conditions.  Officer Ostlund provided traffic control prior to, and during the event.  Additionally, CPO Ostlund patrolled the event by mountain bike, interacting with youth and their families during the course of his patrols.  Senior CPO Kester maintained a watchful eye over attendees and worked in concert with CPO Ostlund to address any and all concerns.

Mountain Bike Patrols Yield Positive Results – On April 27, 2019, CPO Ostlund attended the South River Fly Fishing Expo, held in Waynesboro, VA.  During the course of the event CPO Ostlund, an avid fly-fisherman himself, engaged numerous attendees in conversation and answered a plethora of questions related to fishing.  On several occasions during the day, CPO Ostlund utilized his mountain bike to patrol along the lengthy public stretches of the South River.  During the course of those patrols he checked numerous anglers for license and equipment compliance, made one narcotic arrest, issued one summons for no trout license, and warned two individuals for possessing/using bait on the artificial-lure-only section of the river.

CPOs Assist in Search for Missing Autistic Child – Shortly after 10:00 pm on May 3, 2019, CPO Jacob Chaffin responded to a call for assistance from the Albemarle County Police Department to assist in the search for a 12-year-old nonverbal autistic child. The child had reportedly left the home and parents believed that he likely went towards the Mechums River, just behind the home. Officer Chaffin was not far from the home and was the first arriving law enforcement officer. He immediately began a search and was able to utilize his man-tracking training to locate footprints and articles of clothing. The footprints and articles led officers to the Mechums River. Once local law enforcement arrived, Officer Chaffin notified DGIF dispatch to request an additional CPO to respond with a boat. CPO Paul Inge responded and met CPO Chaffin at the boat ramp for the Rivanna Reservoir. The officers quickly launched the district’s River Road Jet Boat to respond to the area to search the river for the missing child. The CPOs were the first on-water units to arrive on scene despite battling extreme fog which made boat operation through the reservoir and river rapids slow and difficult. Just as the CPOs arrived in the area, the child was located in a wooded area by ground officers due to his Project Lifesaver locator device. The child was uninjured, and had traveled a significant distance downstream in the river and had exited the water on the opposite side. This is the second request for the CPOs assistance within a month’s time related to missing persons in Albemarle County due to remote or special conditions.

Suspicious Vehicle on a Gravel Road – CPO Ian Ostlund and Sgt. Rob Ham were conducting night patrol of the boat ramps and waters of Rockingham County when they observed a suspicious vehicle on a gravel road adjacent to posted private property.  The vehicle was on the edge of the roadway with the vehicles lights off and interior lights turned on.  The officer approached the vehicle to check the welfare of the occupants due to the remote location and the time of night.  As the officers approached, the occupants began moving around inside the vehicle in what appeared to be an attempt to hide or conceal something.  The officers, upon looking into the window, observed suspected marijuana.  Two of the occupants were juveniles and two occupants were adults.  Further search of the vehicle rendered a large amount of marijuana along with scales and smaller baggies for distribution of narcotics.  Charges are pending for narcotics violations and giving false information to a police officer.

DUI Twice the Legal Limit – Officer Ostlund and Sgt. Ham continued their patrol to the Island Ford Boat ramp where they observed a female driver sitting in her vehicle trespassing on the DGIF boat ramp property.  The vehicle was running and the driver had an open can of beer in the cup holder.  The driver appeared to be visibly upset and crying.  The officers approached the female and noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.  Officer Ostlund asked the driver to perform Field Sobriety Test and offered her a preliminary breath test.     The female was subsequently arrested for DUI. The suspect submitted a breath sample at the Rockingham County Jail of .21 BAC, well over twice the legal limit.

Lake Tams Kid’s Fishing Day – On Saturday, May 4th, 2019 Staunton Parks and Recreation along with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries hosted the Lake Tams Kids Fishing Day. SCPO Kester was present to assist with measuring and weighing trout along with Paul Bugas from the Aquatics Division. A total of 183 kids attended the event.  Prizes were given for the first child to reach their limit and the largest fish in several age categories.  The annual event was once again successful for many of the young anglers!

CPO Assists with Bicycle Wreck – During the event, SCPO Kester was notified of a young man who was injured near the lake from a bicycle wreck. SCPO Kester responded to provide first-aid assisting with splinting the child’s leg before the mother could arrive and take the child to the hospital.  He was later notified that the child had suffered a fracture in three places in his leg.

Virginia Conservation Police Participate in Woodstock Community Safety Day – On Saturday, May 18, 2019, Conservation Police Sgt. Carl Martin represented DGIF at the Woodstock Community Safety Day in Shenandoah County. With the start of National Safe Boating Week, he set up a boating safety exhibit emphasizing the importance of life jackets on kayaks. Kayaks continue to gain in popularity and allow people to enjoy Virginia’s waterways. The North Fork, South Fork, and main stem of the Shenandoah River flow though District 41 resulting in many miles of river for all to enjoy. On behalf of DGIF, we would like to remind everyone to, “Always be responsible, be safe, and have fun!” We thank the Woodstock Police Department for inviting us to this great event each year.

CPOs Patrol WMAs Many Violators Cited – On May 24, 2019, CPOs Matt Cavazos and Paul Inge conducted a nighttime patrol of DGIF owned properties and boat ramps along the James River in Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties. While on patrol at Hardware River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Fluvanna, the officers encountered several groups of individuals all of whom were in violation or WMA rules. Officers found 16 violations including possession of marijuana, violations of WMA posted rules for driving around gates and camping too close to the boat landing, alcohol violations, and numerous fishing license violations. The officers continued their patrol to check other properties along the river. In total, officers detected 21 separate violations, issuing the appropriate summonses and warnings.

Wildlife Crimeline Call Leads to Charges – On May 11, 2019, dispatch received a Wildlife Crime Line call regarding subject that was fishing in the Occoquan River and shot at a great blue heron twice with a slingshot. The witness was able to photograph the suspect and his vehicle. CPO Eric Plaster launched an investigation and was able to track down the suspect. Plaster conducted an interview and the suspect admitted that he shot towards the heron and that he was fishing. The suspect did not possess a valid fishing license. Charges were placed for attempting to take a heron, no fishing license and no hunting license.

Special Ops

Persistence Pays Off – Officer Cramer had received information from and informant that a male subject had been hunting weeks before turkey season had come in. Officer Cramer with the help of Officers Quarles and Newton set up the morning before opening day across the street from the subject’s house. The subject came outside and called back and forth with the gobbling of a turkey before getting in his truck and leaving. The Officers intended to do the same thing for opening morning but with the substantial amount of rain that morning were unable to get into the location without getting stuck or being seen by others.  At approximately 1100 hours Officer Cramer received a call from his source stating the subject had a turkey on his front step. Officer Cramer immediately went to the residence to conduct an interview. Officer Cramer questioned the subject on the location of kill as his property was surrounded by land owned by Stafford County. During the course of the interview the subject admitted to trespassing on the county property where he killed the turkey, hunting with no hunting license, failing to check, hunting during closed season, and possessing a firearm while on felony probation.  The turkey was seized and charges were made.

K9 Assists Region 3 with Arbor Day – On April 18, 2019, Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke and K9 Avery assisted Conservation Police Officer Mathew Arnold with the 2019 Arbor Day event in Tazewell County.  The event educated local Tazewell County middle and elementary school students on the importance of land and wildlife conservation.  Office VanDyke had the opportunity to speak with the students on the K9 Units’ responsibility within DGIF.  The students and teachers were enthusiastic about Avery and showed her plenty of affection, which K9 Avery loved.  There were approximately 300 area students in attendance.

K9 Bailey Attends Career Day at George Mason Elementary – On April 11, 2019, Officer Patrillo and K9 Bailey attended the annual career day at George Mason Elementary in Richmond. Officer Patrillo explained the responsibilities and day-to-day activities of a Conservation Police Officer, but Bailey stole the show with her detection demonstrations.  Many of the children were not familiar with Conservation Police and had never spent much time in the outdoors.  The children learned of new opportunities in the outdoors and many expressed interest in fishing and boating.

Preschoolers Learn About Wildlife from CPOs and K9 Avery – On April 22, 2019 Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke and K9 Avery assisted Senior Conservation Police Officer Daniel Ross with a K9 demo at the Mary’s Chapel Preschool in Wise County.  Senior Officer Ross spoke on the daily duties of a conservation police officer and the importance of wildlife conservation.  Officer VanDyke had the opportunity to speak with the preschoolers on the K9 Units’ responsibility within DGIF.  The preschoolers and teachers were able to meet and spend quality time with K9 Avery.  Many of the preschoolers shared their own personal experiences with their own K9 companions.

Youth Excited over K9 Demo – On Saturday May 4, 2019, Senior K9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and K9 Justice performed a K9 demonstration at The Flying Rabbit in Rockingham County. Over 200 youth were and attendance. After the demonstration, Officer Billhimer asked, “Who wants to be a CPO when they grow up?” 200 plus hands went in the air! Watch out DGIF academy year 2035 its going to be a big class!

K9 Justice and Handler CPO Billhimer Attend USFWS Bring your Kid to Work Event – On April 25, 2019 Senior K9 CPO Billhimer and K9 Justice attended the first USFWS event in Falls Church Va. The USFWS employees were able to bring their kids to work and go to different stations.  At the stations they would learn about different agencies and their job functions. K9 Justice’s station was a big hit. He performed several demos to the employees and the children. K9 Justice showed his skills on finding hidden spent shell casings along with a big hit where he answered an on-lookers question. “What is the limit of trout in Virginia?” K9 Justice barked 6 times. The crowd cheered with amusement.

K9 Bailey Locates Illegal Rockfish – On May 20th, while observing anglers from a distance, CPO Patrillo saw an angler catch a striped bass from the 14th Street Bridge in Richmond. The angler carried the fish to a parking area out of the officer’s view and then returned to fishing. Officer Patrillo took his K9 partner Bailey to the parking area and found a black sedan parked near where he last saw the angler. Officer Patrillo deployed Bailey in the parking lot and she quickly alerted on the trunk of the vehicle.  Officer Patrillo then approached the angler and asked if he had any luck. The angler denied catching any fish several times before officer Patrillo asked to look in his vehicle. Officer Patrillo explained that his K9 partner had given an alert on the angler’s vehicle indicating the presence of striped bass in the vehicle. The angler then admitted to having a striped bass in the vehicle. Officer Patrillo located an undersized striped bass in a cooler in the trunk of the angler’s vehicle. Appropriate charges were placed.

K9 Officers and Their Partners Graduate – CPOs Glenn Cramer and Mark Vandyke, and their K9 partners, along with officers from Kansas, Oregon and Utah, graduated from the Indiana K9 Academy on May 16, 2019.  This training was comprised of 3 three week training sessions in Indiana, with 3 week self-training at home between each session.  Cramer and his partner Waylon, and VanDyke and his partner Avery, were certified in three disciplines.  These disciplines were man-tracking, wildlife detection and evidence detection.  After weeks away from home and numerous miles on their boots, they are now home and will spend some time with the family, and then be ready to show their skills to fellow CPOs.  Great Job Guys and Welcome Home!

K9 Officer Receives Recognition – On May 16, 2019, CPO Richard Howald was recognized by Indiana DNR Command Staff for his dedication and support of the Indiana K9 Academy.  DNR Major Beaver stated that Officer Howald’s contributions to the academy went above and beyond and was a vital part of the success of all 7 graduating handlers and their K9 partners.

K9 Bailey Locates Illegal Rockfish – On May 20th, while observing anglers from a distance, CPO Patrillo saw an angler catch a striped bass from the 14th Street Bridge in Richmond. The angler carried the fish to a parking area out of the officer’s view and then returned to fishing. Officer Patrillo took his K9 partner Bailey to the parking area and found a black sedan parked near where he last saw the angler. Officer Patrillo deployed Bailey in the parking lot and she quickly alerted on the trunk of the vehicle.  Officer Patrillo then approached the angler and asked if he had any luck. The angler denied catching any fish several times before officer Patrillo asked to look in his vehicle. Officer Patrillo explained that his K9 partner had given an alert on the angler’s vehicle indicating the presence of striped bass in the vehicle. The angler then admitted to having a striped bass in the vehicle. Officer Patrillo located an undersized striped bass in a cooler in the trunk of the angler’s vehicle. Appropriate charges were placed.

K9 Officers and Their Partners Graduate – CPOs Glenn Cramer and Mark Vandyke, and their K9 partners, along with officers from Kansas, Oregon and Utah, graduated from the Indiana K9 Academy on May 16, 2019.  This training was comprised of 3 three week training sessions in Indiana, with 3 week self-training at home between each session.  Cramer and his partner Waylon, and VanDyke and his partner Avery, were certified in three disciplines.  These disciplines were man-tracking, wildlife detection and evidence detection.  After weeks away from home and numerous miles on their boots, they are now home and will spend some time with the family, and then be ready to show their skills to fellow CPOs.  Great Job Guys and Welcome Home!

DGIF Prepares for Future Academy at The Green Top LE Job Fair – On May 19, 2019, Major Naff, Lt. Murray, Officer Patrillo, and K9 Bailey attended the Law Enforcement Job Fair at Green Top Sporting Goods. The event featured 17 law enforcement agencies and gave the public an opportunity to interact with members of those agencies.  The event proved to be very successful for DGIF as Lieutenant Murray and Major Naff exchanged contact information with several potential candidates for the upcoming recruit class; and K9 Bailey impressed the crowd with multiple demonstrations of her detection abilities.   Although the event was held at Green Top, the crowd consisted of a diverse group of job-seekers who took advantage of having so many law enforcement agencies at one place at one time.  WRVA’s Jeff Katz had highlighted the event on his show the Friday before and spoke highly of Virginia’s Conservation Police.  Several Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, and Deputies volunteered to enter the “dunk a cop” tank and allow the public the opportunity to purchase a chance to dunk their favorite law enforcement officer. The proceeds were donated to Virginia State Police Association in honor and memory of VSP Trooper L. Dowell, EOW Feb. 4, 2019.


  • May 29, 2019