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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

February 1 – 21, 2023

To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers’ (CPOs, or previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant of the Law Enforcement Division of DWR. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation.

Region 1

CPOs Teach Hunter Education: On February 23-24, 2023, Conservation Police Master Officer Cameron Dobyns, Officer First Class Amanda Nevel, and Officer Sally Baumbach instructed a hunter education class at Aylett Country Day School in Essex County. Dobyns has been working with the school for nearly 16 years in providing students with a basic hunter education class. This year, over 30 students participated and received their certificate of completion. Providing this program to local schools sometimes allows students the only opportunity to partake in the safety class and it also inspires these  students to enjoy hunting and the outdoors safely and responsibly.

CPOs Attend Maritime Search and Rescue Training: During the week of February 27 through March 3, 2023, Conservation Police Officers from Region 1 attended the 17th annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum. The forum takes place in the City of Hampton and is hosted by The Port of Virginia and the United States Coast Guard. During the training, local, state and federal first responders train together in several maritime scenarios and subjects include: sonar operations, marine electronics, towing and recovery, boat operations and maritime search and rescue techniques. The training is vital to ensure proficiency when called upon by our emergency response partners to provide quality response and public service to the boating community.

Virginia Conservation Police Officer Makes DUI Arrest.  On Wednesday, March 1, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Brett Stone was traveling through downtown Suffolk while on routine patrol.  While at a traffic light, the officer observed a Dodge Charger rev its engine and spin its tires.  The Charger spun out of control and stopped facing oncoming traffic.  CPO Stone conducted a traffic stop and was met by several uncooperative occupants.  CPOs Sarah Druy and Chris Smith responded to assist CPO Stone and aid in the investigation.   An off-duty Virginia State Police Trooper and the Suffolk Police Department quickly assisted with the uncooperative suspects prior to the other CPOs arrival.  Upon further investigation, CPO Stone determined that the operator was alcohol impaired.  The operator of the vehicle was arrested and charged with DUI and refusal to take a breath test.

Hunter Education Class:  On March 11, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Amanda Nevel teamed up with Independence Farm in Richmond County to host their annual Women and Youth Hunter Education class. Students in this year’s class varied greatly in background and diversity showing the growing interest in hunting across the Northern Neck area. This year, students from the growing Amish community in Richmond County joined the class.  This class features a live trail exercise allowing students to practice what is taught throughout the classroom. The trail includes safe weapons handling in the field, tree stand safety, ethical hunter scenarios, fence/obstacle crossing, hunting laws in practice and safe zones of fire among other topics. Students walk through various hunting scenarios to show the importance of proper hunting safety practices. Lunch was donated by Independence Farm for all students and instructors. The course was a successful training day for all students and parents in attendance. Special thank you to all DWR certified Hunter Education Instructors for volunteering their time and passion to teach.

Virginia Conservation Police Assist with Waterfowl Research Project in Accomack County:  On March 19, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sgt. Steve Garvis and CPO Mark Machen assisted DWR Wildlife Biologist Bridie Farmer with the handling and processing of approximately 42 green wing teal that were captured on the Doe Creek WMA. By enlisting the assistance of the CPOs, wildlife personnel were able to monitor two separate trap locations that morning as part of an Atlantic Waterfowl Flyway Research Project. After the cannon capture net was fired off, the CPOs moved in to assist biologist with removing the birds from the net and putting them into holding crates. US Fish and Wildlife Service leg bands were placed on each duck to track them and then they were released unharmed back into the wild.

Virginia Conservation Police Assist with Hunter Education Turkey Workshop:  On March 19, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Joe Rollings assisted with a turkey hunting workshop which took place at the Bronco Rod and Gun Club in Southampton County. The workshop is designed to strengthen a hunters’ skills and knowledge of turkey hunting.  This was a live fire event to improve marksmanship and there were seminars on turkey calling, hunting techniques and strategies, game processing and lawful turkey hunting methods.

Virginia Conservation Police Participate in Career Day at Harrison Elementary School:  On March 17, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Chris Gilmore and Sgt. Joe Rollings were invited to participate at a Career Day at Harrison Elementary School in Prince George County.  The CPOs reached out to over 75 Pre-K and 2nd grade students who learned about the duties and responsibilities of a Virginia Conservation Police Officer.

Virginia National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Tournament:  On Saturday, March 11, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers, and CPO Academy Recruits assisted the DWR Outreach Division with the 2023 Virginia National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament at Meadow Event Park as lane judges.  This is a DWR sponsored archery tournament for schools in Virginia that participate in the NASP program.  NASP is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance among students in grades 4-12 through archery related skills.  And through it, students are learning focus, self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to be successful both in the classroom and in life.  The archers showcased their skills at 10 and 20 meters using their Genesis Bows with 10 to 20 pounds of draw weight.  There were more than 500 archers participating at the tournament and over $20,000 in scholarships were awarded to participants at the conclusion of the event.

Region 2

Violations Detected in Delayed Harvest Area:  On March 2, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers’ First-Class Leslie Wright and Shane Wilson were patrolling a delayed harvest trout stream in the City of Salem.  The area is well known, with reports of illegal fishing activity are often received.  The CPOs observed two individuals fishing with non-artificial bait in the prohibited area.  They contacted them and discovered that one was not properly licensed to fish.  Delayed harvest trout waters were created to diversify Virginia’s trout stocking program and accommodate a variety of trout anglers’ interests.  The appropriate action was taken.

CPO Renders Emergency Medical Aid:  On February 24, 2023, Conservation Police Officer First Class James A. Hale responded to a call regarding an unconscious/unresponsive person in Franklin County.  CPO Hale was the first unit on scene and located the individual lying on the ground, not breathing, with his hands beginning to turn blue.  After assessing the situation, CPO Hale administered one dose of Naloxone.  The subject did not immediately respond but his breathing did appear to improve.  Within moments, EMS personnel arrived and administered an intravenous dose of Naloxone, which resulted in the subject regaining consciousness. The subject was transported to Franklin Memorial Hospital by EMS for further evaluation.

Community Outreach Event:  On March 4, 2023, Conservation Police Officer First Class Tyler Routon, K9 Officer Jacob Chaffin, and Sergeant Michael Morris attended a Sportsman’s Night Event at Eastlake Church in Bedford County.  The CPOs set up an informational display and gave boating safety presentations to two groups of attendees.  The event was attended by approximately 175 citizens and provided an excellent opportunity for the CPOs to interact with their constituents prior to the start of boating season.

Unlawful Watercraft Dealer:  On February 28, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Daniel Newton, Officer Jared Howell, and Sergeant Brandon Harris assisted Special Agents Paul Inge and Jim Croft with the investigation of an illegal watercraft dealer in Mecklenburg County, VA.  Using information gathered over several years, Special Agent Inge obtained search warrants for the potential suspect’s place of business and residence.  Officers located over 20 watercraft and vehicles that were not properly titled and documents related to the unlawful sale of watercraft and vehicles.  The suspect was taken into custody by Officer Newton for the felony offense of obtaining money by false pretense and a misdemeanor warrant.  The suspect was served summonses for prior watercraft selling/titling violations.  Additional charges are pending.

CPOs Connect with Elementary Students:  On February 21, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Adam Roberts and James A. Hale engaged K-2nd grade students at Rocky Mount Elementary School in Franklin County.  The Officers spoke about their role in conserving Virginia’s natural resources and utilized fur pelts as examples of Virginia’s native wildlife.  K9 Officer Chaffin then conducted an outdoor demonstration for pre-K-5th grade students in which K9 Molly was the star of the show.  CPO Hale returned the following day and engaged 3rd-5th grade students in similar fashion.  Virginia Conservation Police Officers play a critical role in connecting youth to Virginia’s natural resources.  Based on the excitement and number of smiles, mission accomplished!

Multi Agency After-Action Review:  On March 7, 2023, Conservation Police Officer First Class Adam Roberts and Conservation Police Sergeants Jamie Slaughter and Michael Morris attended an After-Action Review meeting with members of Smith Mountain Lake Fire & Rescue and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  Sergeant Slaughter coordinated the meeting which provided an opportunity to discuss the response and follow-up action of the various agencies during a fatal boating incident which occurred on January 2, 2023, on Smith Mountain Lake.  Collaboration among partner agencies is vital in making Smith Mountain Lake a safe environment for recreational boating.

CPOs Visit Gretna High School:  On March 8, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Slaughter and Officer First Class Adam Roberts made guest appearances at Gretna High School in Pittsylvania County.  The officers were invited as part of a program that included DWR volunteer instructor Mark Slade sharing his expertise on the topic of wildlife trapping.  The CPOs spoke with the students about their role in protecting Virginia’s natural resources and about their individual job responsibilities.  The Officers emphasized how important it is for the students to continue their education if they intend to pursue a career in natural resources and answered several questions related to hunting, fishing, and boating from the quizzical group.

District 23 CPO’s attend Ignite Event:  On March 10th AND 11th, Virginia Conservation Police Officers First Class Cory Harbour, John Daniel, and Sergeant Sonny Nipper attended the Men’s Ignite Event at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg. The annual event is attended by hundreds of people from all over the country each year and has a large focus on outdoor activities. The officers set up a display to include several trophy antlers and a seized bear, along with the Region 2 Command Trailer. They fielded numerous questions over the two-day event and provided recruitment information.

Region 3

Extra effort locates suspects:  During the last month, a local landowner noted and documented a vehicle that had trespassed on his property on three separate occasions.  The landowner, who was upset that the potential suspects had torn up several of his alfalfa fields, was able to get a description of the vehicle, along with a license plate number, and had reported that to local authorities.  The local agency indicated that the license plate described returned to a different vehicle than the reported one.  Feeling desperate, the landowner contacted Virginia Conservation Police Master Officers Wirt and Peake.  Using their available resources, they soon developed a potential suspect, locate him, and conducted an interview.  They soon developed an additional person of interest and conducted an interview with that individual.  As a result, they were able to close this case successfully.

Special Assignment results in Slot Limit Fishing Violations:  Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Jason Harris and Sergeant Wes Billings recently conducted a special operation focusing on protecting the Walleye, Musky, and Smallmouth Bass resources in the New River.  On February 25, 2023, Sergeant Billings located two individuals who were illegally possessing a 20.5-inch slot limit smallmouth, along with a limit of walleye.  On February 26, 2023, Master Officer Harris checked a fisherman who had an illegal 19-inch slot limit smallmouth in possession.  On average it takes a fish about ten years to reach this size, so every fish taken in this slot limit could have a significant impact to the fishery.  The appropriate anglers were charged for the slot limit violations.

Outreach Effort:  On March 3, 2023, Conservation Police Officer Matthew Meade, Sergeant Matthew Arnold, and Elk Biologist Jackie Rosenberger attended a science job fair at the Wallace Middle School in Bristol, Virginia.  The officers and biologist fielded a multitude of questions from the students regarding CPOs and wildlife biology.  Biologist Rosenberger showed a bull elk skull with attached antlers, as well as a tracking collar used on cow elk.  The CPOs described the roles of Virginia Conservation Police Officers and displayed photos from the field.  A total of 450 students attended the job fair and it was a great success.

Double Homicide Investigation in District 31:  On January 20, 2023, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) requested assistance with an on-going double homicide investigation.  In this case, the bodies of the two victims had disposed of in the New River, and while the Sheriff’s Office had recovered one victim, the other victim was still missing.  Virginia Conservation Police Officers, from District 31 and District 32, assisted by searching the riverbank, nearby islands, as well as some open water, by utilizing river patrol watercraft and Unmanned Aerial assets (drones).  After being unsuccessful on day one of the search, Virginia Conservation Police Officers, along with the Virginia State Police Dive Team and several local fire agencies, resumed searching on January 21st.  Fortunately, the victim was soon located, and a successful recovery was made.  Virginia Conservation police Officer’s played a positive role in assisting and directly contributed to this investigation and helping the victim’s family gain closure.

Mutual Assistance helps VSP Locate Illegal ATV Operation:  On March 5, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer Ben Boyette and Conservation Police Officer Andrew Bobbitt were notified by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Division Dispatch, of a request for assistance from the Virginia State Police (VSP).  In this case, a VSP Trooper had pursued two All-Terrain vehicles (ATVs) off road in Carroll County, and they were requesting a Utility Vehicle (UTV) to access the area where one of the ATVs was believed to be located.  CPO Bobbitt arrived on scene with a UTV, and along with the VSP Trooper, they began looking for the ATV.  After a short search, CPO Bobbitt and the VSP Trooper located the ATV operator behind a tree trying to hide from their observation.  The officers secured this individual and developed information of the others identify.  They then traveled to that location and located the second potential suspect.  The VSP Trooper identified both parties and made the appropriate charges.

Wytheville Community College Stocked Trout Program:  On Friday, March 17, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officers, from District 32, were finally able realize and achieve success with the first official trout stocking of the Wytheville Community College Pond in Wythe County.  District Officers have worked almost three years to help achieve this project, which will connect a significant number of anglers, both new and experienced, with this opportunity.  The results of the stocking were quickly observed with over forty anglers of all ages converging on the waters.  Several youths were observed, including Donald Kitts and his grandsons; Hollis Rigney (16), Paxton Rigney (12), Carter Hoback (10), Joey Newman (9), Boone Kitts (7), who were able to enjoy the afternoon with their grandfather and catch several trout.

Region 4

Fishing Patrol Leads to Meth Seizure: On February 23, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Tim Bostic was conducting a routine fishing patrol on the Robinson River, in Culpeper County when he observed two kayaks floating toward him and actively fishing.  As the two kayaks drifted closer to CPO Bostic, they anchored up on a log in the middle of the river, put their fishing gear down and opened up a bag labeled “happy kit” containing a meth pipe, crystal meth and a lighter.  Both subjects took a smoke from the meth pipe and then continued floating down river. When the two kayakers realized they were being watched by a CPO, they quickly attempted to conceal the “happy kit”.  CPO Bostic had them come ashore and interviewed them separately, eventually receiving confessions from both individuals that they had smoked meth to help them relax while they fished.  In addition, neither had a fishing license.  While CPO Bostic took them into custody, CPO Goff arrived to assist and stayed with the kayaks and vehicles until a trusted relative could pick up the equipment.  Teamwork among DWR Officers and local law enforcement agencies ensures that law violations on the Commonwealth’s waters will be detected and prosecuted so that everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors.

Traffic Stop Helps Identify Fraud Suspect: On January 7, 2023, Conservation Police Officer First Class L. Hawkins was traveling on Interstate 95 when he observed a vehicle operating carelessly. CPO Hawkins conducted a traffic stop and was able to verify the driver’s identity through an international passport. The family was visiting from the United Kingdom and indicated that they would be returning there in a few days. CPO Hawkins released the driver with a verbal warning and completed a case report documenting the events. On February 28, 2023, DWR was contacted by a Detective from Wellesley, Massachusetts. Massachusetts detectives already had the vehicle information related to CPO Hawkins’s traffic stop, but they needed further information on the driver. CPO Hawkins’ identification of the driver filled in the missing piece, enabling Massachusetts detectives to identify the suspect who had reportedly defrauded an elderly victim of almost $40,000.

Call for Assistance Leads to Drug and Assault Charges: On March 06, 2023, the City of Covington Police Department received a call from a female who stated that someone was attempting to steal her car.  The police department radioed for assistance from any available law enforcement agency.  DWR Conservation Police Officer First Class Pritt heard the call for help and responded.  CPO Pritt and deputies with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office located the suspected person driving a vehicle away from the area.  A traffic stop was initiated, and the person was taken into custody.  Upon further investigation, the person was found to have committed an assault and battery and was also in possession of Schedule I or II drugs.  The suspect was arrested by Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and appropriate charges were placed.

Conservation Police Officers Respond to a Fatal Car Accident in Bath County:  On March 11, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Officer First Class Philip Pritt and CPO Jasemine Brown were on patrol in Bath County when they received a report of a vehicle that had run off the road and hit a tree.  Officers Pritt and Brown were only a short distance away and responded to assist. When they arrived, the CPOs discovered both occupants were unconscious and in need of immediate medical service.  The CPOs utilized their first responder training and first aid equipment to stabilize the victims while the Bath County Fire and EMS personnel used the “jaws of life” to assist in their extraction from the vehicle.  One occupant was pronounced dead at the accident scene while the other was transported to an area hospital for treatment.  The Bath County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police also responded and were investigating the accident.

 Trout Enforcement Operation Leads to Additional Fishing and Hunting Violations:  On March 16, 2023, District 41 Virginia Conservation Police Officers conducted a trout enforcement operation in Frederick County.  Senior Officer Justin Chambers, Senior Officer Brett Clawson and Sergeant Chance Dobbs patrolled 3 trout fishing areas that had recently been stocked with trout from the DWR Coursey Springs Fish Hatchery.  As the operation neared its conclusion, the CPOs located an individual fishing without the required fishing licenses. While speaking with the angler, CPO Clawson developed information about multiple hunting violations committed by several other area residents.  The CPOs appropriately handled the fishing violation charges and will continue to investigate the hunting violation information.

Special Operations

Canine Conservation Academy for West Virginia DNR Inaugural K9 Unit:  On February 19, 2023, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement K9 Unit partnered with West Virginia DNR to provide training to their 6 new handlers and canine partners.  This 3-week session is the first of 3 sessions that will be completed over the next few months.  Virginia Conservation Police K9 Sgt. Richard Howald is leading this Academy and being assisted by fellow officers.  With successful training, each of the West Virginia DNR handlers will be certified in tracking, article search, and wildlife detection.

Meritorious Action Award:  On February 17, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master K9 Officer Mark DiLuigi and K9 Lily were honored at the 2022 Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Annual Awards Ceremony.  CPO DiLuigi and K9 Lily received a Meritorious Action Award which recognizes an individual, or team of individuals, who have demonstrated exemplary action to a specific event.  On a cold evening in mid-November 2022, K9 Team DiLuigi/Lily assisted the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) with locating a missing/endangered adult female who was suffering from medical issues.  During the search CPO DiLuigi, K9 Lily and three LCSO deputies located the missing adult along the shoreline of Beaverdam Reservoir.  The female was unresponsive, wet, and suffering from hypothermia.  The team carried the female from the shoreline to the main access point, where she was transported to receive medical attention.  It was stated by doctor’s that these efforts saved her life.

Four State – Game Warden Information Exchange:  On March 19, 2023, Virginia Conservation Police Master Officer Mark DiLuigi and K9 Lily attended an information exchange between officers from West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  During the exchange, officers were introduced to officers from neighboring jurisdictions to discuss avenues of sharing information to promote the prevention of illegal activity involving wildlife.

NWTF Tidewater Chapter-Banquet:  On March 17, 2023, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Tidewater Chapter held its annual banquet at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA.  This family friendly event consisted of games, raffles, and an auction.  For the second year in a row, Chapter President, Clifford Dietz, honored the commitment he made to CPO Bonnie Braziel, K9 Grace, and the DWR K9 Unit, by having an item in the auction, in which all proceeds go to the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation/K9 Fund.  This year the item sold for $500.  The winning bidder, Joe, holds a special place in his heart for the K9 Unit; previously he was involved in a hunting accident, and it was a K9 that went back into the scene and located his firearm.  Below is a picture from the event.

  • March 23, 2023