The DNR Division of Law Enforcement recently recognized officers at an awards ceremony held in Indianapolis.
“It is a true honor to highlight and recognize the excellence and commitment of Indiana Conservation Officers from across the state,” said Col. Steve Hunter, director of DNR Law Enforcement.
District 8 Officer James Schreck, assigned to Harrison County, was selected as the James D. Pitzer Indiana Conservation Officer of the Year. The award establishes Schreck as the top officer of 2018, as selected from the 10 district Officer of the Year recipients.
The Pitzer award is named for Conservation Officer James D. Pitzer who was killed in the line of duty on June 2, 1961, in Jay County. The Pitzer recipient demonstrates professional ethics, attitude and service to the public while demonstrating dedication to the principles of the conservation of natural resources and the enforcement of those laws affecting the department. The officer must also demonstrate the ability to provide a positive influence, to develop camaraderie within the ranks, and to gain confidence and respect of fellow officers.
Lt. Andy Wuestefeld of District 4 received the Director’s Leadership Award for his work and leadership in the wake of the line-of-duty death of Sgt. Ed Bollman, who served under him.
District 4 Officer Mark Baker received the 2018 William J. Nattkemper Brotherhood Award. This award is named for Warden Nattkemper, who, along with Officer William J. Peare, lost his life on April 27, 1926, on the Wabash River near Tecumseh. Witnesses to the incident, officers L.B. Watson, John Pile and A.R. Hill, remained at the scene until the bodies of their fallen comrades were recovered. The award recognizes the recipient as having resemblance of the commitment and inseparable bond of brotherhood displayed by those officers, which became the hallmark of Indiana Conservation Officers.
District 3 Officer Jarred Coffing was recognized by the State Boating Law Administrator, Lt. Kenton Turner, and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) as the Boating Enforcement Officer of the Year. Coffing was a leader in enforcement of boating- while-intoxicated cases across the state.
District 4 Officer Josiah Julian was presented with the 2018 Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year award for his enforcement of waterfowl regulations and his related performance in public education and community interaction.
District 7 Officer Tony Mann was recognized by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) as the 2018 Wildlife Officer of the Year for Indiana. NWTF’s considerations in choosing an award winner include the full-time law enforcement officer’s case involvement, public relations outreach, and service to the community.
Lt. Kent Hutchins and Officer Patrick Labhart of District 5 were honored with Life Saving Awards for their heroic response to a 911 call of a subject who had driven into floodwaters and was being swept away, whom the officers rescued.
District 7 Officer Kyle Hembree was honored with a Life Saving Award for his actions while saving a person from the White River in Dubois County. Hembree’s quick response and knowledge of the river allowed him to rescue the person nearly 5 ½ miles downstream.
Capt. Nate Berry of District 8 was awarded a Life Saving Award for responding and removing a man who was pinned against a tree in floodwaters after his canoe capsized, saving his life.
Last, it was with great honor and sadness that Sgt. Ed Bollman was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is presented to an Indiana Conservation Officer for acts of heroism at the risk of their own life in a situation considered distinctly above and beyond the call of duty. Bollman drowned on Feb. 13, 2018 while enacting a rescue of a victim who fell through ice.