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Gov. Justice, WVDNR introduce new Law Enforcement Dive Team

West Virginia Natural Resources Police dive team to enhance water safety and law enforcement around state

West Virginia Press Association

HINTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice announced on July 3 the formation of a Natural Resources Police dive team within West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Section.

This team will assist the agency’s law enforcement efforts in boating incidents, cases of missing persons, and evidence recovery. During the ceremony at Bluestone State Park, the team demonstrated their expertise by diving to the bottom of Bluestone Lake to retrieve a dog bone, which they then presented to Babydog.

“I’m beyond proud to see this new dive team in action, helping keep our state’s beautiful natural resources and people safe,” Gov. Justice said. “These dedicated officers are truly top-notch and ready to dive in and tackle any challenge that comes their way. Thanks to the Natural Resources Police and everyone involved in making this team happen. Your hard work is another shining example of our commitment to protecting our people and preserving our great state’s natural beauty.”

The WVDNR Law Enforcement Section’s dive team consists of 10 officers stationed throughout the state to ensure rapid response time and assist local and state agencies with their investigations. Members underwent two weeks of intensive open-water training with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division’s Aquatic Investigations and Recovery Team. In addition to receiving initial certification, dive team members have completed over 100 hours of training on various methods, skills, and equipment. 

“On behalf of our Law Enforcement Section, I would like to thank Colonel Chisholm Frampton and his staff at the South Carolina DNR for their assistance and guidance in training our dive team,” WVDNR Director Brett McMillion said. “We are thrilled to announce the addition of this new special unit to our already incredible Natural Resources Police force and look forward with confidence that this professional dive team will provide an additional law enforcement investigative service that will help fulfill our agency’s mission and better serve the citizens of West Virginia.” 

Members of the dive team include J.B. Smith (Dive Instructor), Z.T. France and J.R. Hieronimus from District 1, Captain M.S. Lott from District 2, Officer S.C. Rader from District 3, officers J.D. Gills and Z.F. Mills from District 4 and officers C.L. Cronin, J.N. Holcomb and I.R. Sweet from District 6.

Operation Dry Water
The announcement of the new dive team kicks off the WVDNR’s Law Enforcement Section’s participation in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign to promote safe and sober boating. During the July 4 weekend, Natural Resources Police officers will be on heightened alert for violations of boating under the influence during Operation Dry Water’s enhanced enforcement initiative.

“A lot of people will be taking their boats out this weekend to celebrate our country’s independence and we just want to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves in a way that is safe and responsible,” Natural Resources Police Colonel Bobby Cales said.

Natural Resources Police are also reminding boaters to perform safety checks on their boats, including checking that horns and lights are operational, and that personal floatation devices are accessible and available for all passengers.

About West Virginia Natural Resources Police
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section, which is the state’s oldest statewide law enforcement agency, employs more than 120 Natural Resources Police officers who enforce the state’s game and fish laws and rules and laws relating to littering, forestry, state parks, environmental and solid waste, pleasure boating and whitewater rafting. Natural Resources Police officers also patrol the Hatfield-McCoy Trails system and assist the State Police and other law enforcement agencies and first responders and oversee the state’s hunter education and boating safety education programs. To learn more about the WVDNR Police, visit WVdnr.gov/law-enforcement.

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