Staff of the Oregon State Police Salem and Albany Fish and Wildlife Division are always willing to go the extra mile in investigating issues within their own district, while also assisting other divisions throughout all of Oregon, Captain Casey Thomas said Friday as he presented the seven-member team with the annual Team of the Year Award.
“This team earned the award in 2015 and to my knowledge, this is the first time it has been awarded twice to the same unit,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the local team “checked all of the boxes,” in terms of award criteria: professionalism, teamwork, leadership, mentorship, thinking outside of the box to solve problems and being dedicated to the public good and protecting natural resources.
“These guys do great work locally and are willing to help others around the state at any time,” Thomas said. “They chip in whenever and wherever they are needed.”
He added they “are always super busy … a model team.” He said they not only check fishing and hunting licenses, but “they are always studying, investigating what’s going on in the area and that often leads them to closing cases.”
Working out of the Albany office in Linn, Benton, Polk and Marion counties are Sgt. James Halsey, senior troopers Jim Andrews, Steve Kenyon, Casey Hunter, Chris Boeholt and Ron Clement; and trooper Zac Cochran.
There are 126 Fish and Wildlife officers statewide.
Halsey praised his fellow troopers for always being willing to work the long hours needed go crack a case.
“They are willing to change their shifts as needed and that can be hard on family life,” Halsey said. “I’ve worked with some of these guys for a long time. They are passionate about catching wildlife violators.”
He said daily jobs range from boat and truck patrols to checking hunting and fishing tags to investigating poaching violations.
“When big game season rolls around, we have to do a lot of follow-up investigations and our guys work a lot of odd hours,” Halsey said.
Addressing the team, Halsey said, “You make my job fun. You all deserve this award.”
Lt. Jeff Lewis said the OSP patrol division said he appreciates the camaraderie among the two divisions.
“They don’t forget us and are very supportive,” he said. “They are always quick to help us out.”
Brian Wolfer of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said he appreciates the hard work of all of the team members. “We couldn’t manage without this team,” he said.
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