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September 23, 2008

DNR honors 2008 Law Enforcement Officers of the Year

A Newberry County wildlife officer was honored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources as the 2008 Statewide Officer of the Year.

Cpl. Ken Cope was awarded the title of statewide S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife officer of the year for 2008 during ceremonies held Friday, Sept. 19 in Columbia. Five 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 Col. Alvin Taylor praised the officers for their outstanding work and dedication as he presented the awards.

Cpl. Cope made 180 cases and 350 warnings, for a total of over 530 contacts and he assisted with 62 additional cases. He works the entire spectrum of DNR enforcement and places special emphasis on boating safety and resource cases.  He checked over 1,500 boats and had over 300 boating hours. He uses his personal vehicles and fuel to work surveillance on sensitive baited areas. On opening day of turkey season, he participated in six turkey hunting over bait cases as well as 10 other related cases.  He also participated in the apprehension of three baited dove fields resulting in 14 cases including over the limit violations, baiting violations and an unplugged gun (all of which occurred on the afternoon of opening day).

He regularly worked night patrols which resulted in 23 related cases, including 10 hunting from a public road, six shining and two hunting out-of-season. 

"Cpl. Cope strives to motivate other officers and does so through his contagiously positive attitude, sense of humor, and friendly competition," said Col. Taylor. "He volunteers to assist others, including his supervisor, with such tasks as collecting and distributing paperwork, compiling and collecting county case reports, and picking-up and dropping-off equipment, just to name a few."   

The following were selected as outstanding DNR officers for 2008 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 was 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.

South Carolina has 255 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 enforce laws and regulations pertaining to more than 441,000 registered boats, and a 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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