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#07-267 September 17, 2007

DNR honors Law Enforcement Officers of the Year Sept. 28 in Columbia

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division will honor the Officers of the Year and announce this year’s statewide winner on Sept. 28. The awards banquet will be held at 1 p.m. at the Clarion Townhouse Hotel on 1615 Gervais Street in Columbia.
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 Sgt. Richard -Todd- Campbelltogether honor the state’s top officers.
The following were selected as outstanding S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers for 2007 from each of the state’s four Natural Resources Enforcement Regions, Marine Law Enforcement Investigations and Education and Staff Operations. The statewide honor of Officer of the Year will be chosen from these candidates:

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.Investigator Benjamin F. Thomas IV

South Carolina has about 235 full-time Natural Resources Law 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.            

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.
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