The Best of the Best
As more and more people have begun to visit and follow the SCDNR Facebook page and our other efforts to provide public information through social media and in other digital formats, it’s fair to say that the staff in our Office of Media and Outreach has been amazed at the number and variety of questions that people have about the SCDNR. So much so, that we’ve begun researching and publishing the answers to some of them on the blog.
(See FAQs and Answers: Is it legal to sell a mounted white-tailed deer buck? from last week.)
But it’s probably a testament to the men and women in the SCDNR’s Law Enforcement Division that by far the number one question we get asked is “How do I/What are the Requirements for” becoming a “game warden.” And yes, while in the modern day, we generally refer to these folks as conservation or natural resources law enforcement officers, but I haven’t met one yet who didn’t take pride in the old-school moniker.
The application requirements for becoming an SCDNR officer are tough, befitting the demanding nature of the job. You’ll find them here, on the SCDNR website (along with a nifty recruiting video). You could also check out the article “Called to Serve” in the January-February 2013 issue of South Carolina Wildlife magazine.
Recently, I had the chance to attend the first-day orientation and swearing-in ceremony where a new class of 15 SCDNR officers received their badges and credentials from SCDNR’s Chief of Law Enforcement, Col. Chisholm Frampton, as well as a full day of training and some words of advice from their future supervisors, and even a retired “game warden,” former SCDNR Lt. Chuck Dial.
“I wish I was you all right now, because I miss it a lot,” Dial told the new officers. “This is the best job you will ever have.”
So just how competitive is it to get one of these positions? Well, as Col. Frampton told the class, the 15 new hires in this class represent the very best and brightest culled from a field of more than 500 initial applicants.
“I want you to get the sense of the legacy and the heritage of what this job means to us,” Col. Frampton told the group. This job is special…it’s a different brand of law enforcement. We wouldn’t have five hundred people wanting these jobs if it wasn’t something special.”
Veteran Officer and Investigations Section supervisor Major Gary Sullivan also addressed the new hires. “I offer this challenge to you: try to learn something new every single day,” said Sullivan, a thirty-eight-year SCDNR veteran. “Help people whenever you get the chance along the way. I guarantee you, you will be remembered more for the good deeds you do than for throwing somebody in jail.”
Photo Gallery Below: In the hallway at Styx, a glass case provides a reminder of nearly 100 years of SCDNR history. Getting photo ID pictures made for officer's credentials is a part of the process, as is detailed training on the radios and other equipment that will be issued to the new officers. A row of trucks awaits their new occupants -- after training, these vehicles will serve as these SCDNR Officer's mobile office, communications center and all-around home-away-from-home during long hours spent in the field. The sense of pride of accomplishment reflected in the faces of many new officers upon receiving their credentials is shared by Col. Frampton.