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#06-255 September 25, 2006  

South Carolina DNR honors 2006 officers of the year

A Charleston County natural resources officer was honored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources as the 2006 Statewide Officer of the Year.
           
1st Sgt. Dennetta Dawson of Charleston was awarded the title of statewide S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) natural resources officer of the year for 2006 during ceremonies held Friday, Sept. 15 in Columbia. Four other officers were also honored for their dedication in protecting the state’s natural resources through enforcement, education, special investigations, intelligence and records and staff operations.
           
The annual officer of the year awards and banquet are dedicated to the late Chief R.M. “Bobby” Gifford, highly regarded chief of natural resources law enforcement for many years. The S.C. Wildlife Officers’ Association, the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, the family of Chief Gifford and DNR together honored the state’s top officers. DNR Law Enforcement Lt. Col. Van McCarty praised the officers for their outstanding work and dedication as he presented the awards.
           
Dawson joined DNR in 1997 as a field officer. Her current position is an instructor in the LawSGT Dennetta Dawson Enforcement Division’s Hunter and Boater Education Section. She has conducted numerous education, safety and ethics presentations in her assigned areas of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Dorchester, Charleston and Jasper counties.

For this past year she conducted 47 hunter education programs in which 475 students were certified and 15 boater education programs that resulted in the certification of 234 students. In addition, she made 16 hunter education and 13 boating education presentations that reached more than 9,000 people.
           
“1st Sgt. Dawson always steps up to the plate and displays to all that she is prepared for any challenge,” said McCarty. “She always receives the highest compliments on evaluations from events such as Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Ladies on the Lake and the National Wild Turkey Federation.”
           
The 2006 DNR Officers of the Year, including the statewide title, were selected by a committee of key DNR law enforcement personnel and captains and rated in six categories: employment history; enforcement activities and specialties; awards, achievements and accomplishments; leadership, teamwork and attitude; family and community involvement; and outstanding cases.
           
Top men and women from across the state are chosen as DNR Officers of the Year because of their exceptional abilities in natural resources enforcement. Before assuming their duties, new officers must complete an eight-week course at the Criminal Justice Academy plus an additional five weeks of intensive DNR field training. Upon completion of the training, officers are also proficient in firearms safety and defensive driving.
           
South Carolina has about 225 full-time natural resources enforcement officers who serve and protect the state’s natural resources by patrolling more than 31,000 square miles of the state’s lands and inland waters. Officers also patrol 750 miles of tidal shoreline and marine waters, to the state’s territorial boundary 3 miles offshore and beyond on special federal assignments.
           
Throughout the state’s 46 counties, DNR officers oversee laws and regulations pertaining to more than 400,000 registered boats, some half-million licensed hunters and anglers and the multi-million dollar coastal fishing industry. Officers enforce Wildlife Management Area regulations and statewide litter laws, instruct hunter and boating education, conduct statewide search and rescue operations and perform community service.
           
The following were selected as outstanding DNR officers for 2006 from each of the state’s four natural resources enforcement regions, plus marine law enforcement investigations and education and staff operations:


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