Virginia Conservation Officer Earns National Recognition

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The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce that Conservation Police Officer Sergeant Charlie Mullins has been named North American Wildlife Enforcement Officer of the Year by the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association (NAWEOA). Sergeant Mullins was recently recognized for this achievement by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their meeting on August 19, 2008.

Founded in 1980, NAWEOA, is an 8,000-member organization of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement officers from across North America. The NAWEOA Officer of the Year Award is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards issued to wildlife conservation police officers. Wildlife enforcement officers from across the United States and Canada are nominated for the award. To be eligible an officer must meet criteria that include being competent, knowledgeable and capable; having character beyond reproach; and having demonstrated professionalism in every facet of life. In other words, the award recognizes the officer who is the embodiment of an ideal wildlife law enforcement officer.

VDGIF Law Enforcement Division Chief Colonel Dabney W. Watts, Jr. said, "Sergeant Charlie Mullins is a skilled officer, a dedicated professional, and an all-around impressive individual. I am proud of the work he has done and continues to do for the Department. He is more than deserving of this recognition."

Virginia's Sergeant Charlie Mullins began his career with VDGIF 23 years ago in Tazewell County. He served as a game warden, as conservation officers were previously known, in Tazewell and Alleghany counties for only six years before being promoted in July 1990. He served as area leader for a region that includes such challenges as patrolling Smith Mountain Lake. In February 1993, Mullins transferred back to his home county of Giles where he served as area leader for the largest VDGIF law enforcement work area in the state.

Over the course of his career, Sergeant Mullins has demonstrated great dedication to his agency and his community. In addition to serving as an area leader, he took on responsibilities for training; search and rescue operations; and dive team recovery operations. He served on the team that developed and implemented the Marine Firearms and Tactics training that continues to be part of the core curriculum of the VDGIF Basic Law Enforcement Academy. He has also taught Defensive Tactics to sworn officers at more than 50 agencies.

His involvement in his community ranges from a weekly column in the local newspaper to serving as a coach for a variety of youth sports; working as a Boy Scout leader; coaching a 4-H shooting team; and participating in Relay for Life and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. He is active in his church, local civic organizations, local schools and in various sportsmen's organizations. In 2006, Sergeant Mullins coordinated the first kids fishing event in Giles County. More than 450 youth participated in the program.

Mullins demonstrated both teamwork and compassion by volunteering for two deployments to the Mississippi Gulf Coast region that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During his second deployment he served as supervisor to the Virginia Law Enforcement Task Force. In that capacity he scheduled 45 officers from five law enforcement agents, ensured timely response to calls, and monitored officer activities.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at www.HuntFishVA.com.

It is the mission of the VDGIF to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia’s fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.