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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

September 19, 2014DNR honors 2014 Law Enforcement Officers of the Year

LCPL Brian M. Welch of Easley was awarded the title of statewide S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife officer of the year for 2014 during ceremonies held Sept. 19 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.

Among LCPL Welch's many accomplishments over the last year included being the leading officer in his region with 333 cases, 792 warnings and 88 assists for 1125 total contacts for the year.
His cases have included: apprehending four subjects for night deer hunting and taking deer out of season. This was the largest number of cases that were made at one time for night deer hunting in Pickens County. He's also issued 63 major violations of which 7 were turkeyL to R- Col. Chislolm Frampton, Brian Welch, Director Alvin Taylor violations, 15 night deer hunting violations, 21 closed season, 2 trapping violations, 4 wildlife management area abuse violations, 4 over the limit/under sized game fish, 3 set hooks/nets, 2 BUIís and many others. He has recorded 472 night patrol hours, inspected 671 boats, logged 64 hours assisting other agencies and checked 585 hunters and 1523 fishermen.

"Honor, loyalty, fairness, integrity, discretion and character are not just 'buzz words' when it comes to this officer, but truly reflect the type of individual he is," said DNR Law Enforcement Col. Chisolm Frampton. "He has a tremendous work ethic and his character and demeanor make others want to better themselves."

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.

The following were selected as outstanding DNR officers for 2014 from each of the state's four Natural Resources Enforcement Regions and Marine Law Enforcement Investigations and Education and Staff Operations along with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) officer. The statewide honor of Officer of the Year was chosen from these candidates:

Region 1 (Anderson, Abbeville, McCormick, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, Union, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties): LCPL Brian M. Welch

Region 2 (York, Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Kershaw, Chesterfield, Lee, Darlington, Marlboro, Dillon, Florence, Marion and Williamsburg counties): Officer Wes Stewart

Region 3 (Newberry, Saluda, Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Lexington, Richland, Sumter, Calhoun, Orangeburg and Clarendon counties): Officer Patrick Nettles

Region 4 & NASBLA (Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Hampton, Charleston, Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester and Jasper counties): Officer James Mills

Law Enforcement Investigations & Education: SGT Pat Rivers

NASBLA Officer of the Year: 1st SGT Jason Plemmons

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's Natural Resources Law Enforcement officers 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 three miles offshore and beyond on special federal assignments.

Throughout the state's 46 counties, DNR officers enforce laws and regulations pertaining to more than 450,000 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.

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