DAISETTA November 8, 2018 - October 29, 2018 marked the fifth meeting in a series of "Behind the Badges" gatherings hosted by Daisetta Police Department and Chief Mike Parrish, and spotlighted the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Game Wardens Mike Boone & Jake Noxon. Game Wardens Boone & Noxon are also cast members from Animal Planet's hit television series entitled "Lone Star Law" which has just begum filming for it's fourth season.
Twenty-six-year veteran Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Warden Mike Boone greeted the citizens of Daisetta, and greater surrounding areas, as he and fellow game warden Jake Noxon spoke about the the life of a Texas Game Warden. Game Warden Boone first addressed the youth by explaining that, if becoming a game warden was something that they would like to do then they had to start preparing now. He explained, "You have to stay out of trouble, keep your grades up, no fighting in school, no speeding tickets when you're older. Be sure there is nothing that would affect your eligibility or candidacy negatively after you finish college and submit your application." Boone went on to convey, "There will be a background check where Texas Parks & Wildlife will interview most everybody you know. Practice solid ethics, respect others, obey the law and your parents, and nothing will stand in your way."
Six-year veteran Game Warden Jake Noxon later added, "If this life [Game Warden] is something that you sincerely want to have then apply and continue to apply. I wasn't accepted for training until I had applied for the third time. It's extremely tough to get in because there may be around 1,500 applicants each year, however, only about 50 will actually be selected for training. So keep at it and don't give up."
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides outdoor recreational opportunities by managing and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat and acquiring and managing parklands and historic areas. It has inherited the functions of many state entities created to protect Texas' natural resources. In 1895 the legislature created the Fish and Oyster Commission to regulate fishing. The Game Department was added to the commission in 1907. The State Parks Board was created as a separate entity in 1923. In the 1930s, projects of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps added substantially to the state's parklands. In 1951, the term oyster was dropped from the wildlife agency's name, and in 1963, the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission were merged to form the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The legislature placed authority for managing fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department when it passed the Wildlife Conservation Act in 1983. Previously, commissioners courts had set game and fish laws in many counties, and other counties had veto power over department regulations. [https://tpwd.texas.gov/about/history]
Game Warden Noxon described himself and Boone as being "Blue Badges" when defining the positions they hold with Texas Parks & Wildlife. Noxon said, "We do all the things that a Texas Peace Officer does. We can make traffic stops, take people to jail, investigate narcotics cases, and so on, but our primary function is to protect our natural resources, habitat, and wildlife throughout Texas." Noxon further stated that, as fully commissioned peace officers, Game Wardens not only enforce fishing, hunting and boating safety laws, they also apprehend dangerous criminals. Game Wardens often lead in search-and-rescue operations across the state and are at the front lines of the state’s border security initiatives.
Noxon touched on the various teams within Texas Parks & Wildlife mentioning the Texas Maritime Tactical Operations Group, (Texas Navy) which exists to enhance Game Wardens’ response capabilities during critical waterborne incidents or special maritime details.
Noxon spoke about TPWD having specialized K-9 teams to supplement Game Warden capacity regionally as needed, serving as a valuable role in border operations, dignitary protection, interagency law enforcement assistance, and other similar law enforcement situations.
The Scout Team is designed around the Division’s unique law enforcement responsibilities, specialized equipment, and specially trained personnel. It is capable of providing a security presence and specialized tactical response in Texas’ diverse eco-regions and marine environments. The team provides support to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and emergency response organizations that do not have the equipment, personnel or capabilities to provide such a response.
The Law Enforcement Division of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department staffs a specialized unit comprised of specially trained, equipped and technically proficient game wardens known as the Search and Rescue Team (SAR). SAR enhances the Texas Game Wardens’ response capabilities during natural and man-made disasters, swiftwater rescues, and land-based search and rescue missions. They are available for all Texas' land and water operations. There is also an underwater search and recovery team which staffs a specialized unit comprised of specially trained, equipped, and technically proficient game wardens who conduct underwater search and recovery missions statewide. From case evidence to victim recovery, this team is called upon to bring them all back from the deep. The team is drawn from all over Texas.
Game Warden Noxon spoke about the Forensics Reconstruction and Mapping Team. The team utilizes the latest technology with [Forensic boat recovery] the most highly technically trained officers to reconstruct the most heinous of crimes through the use of 3D video reconstruction software. He also mentioned the Marine Investigation Unit and explained that the team itself acts as regional contacts for marine theft, tax fraud, and title fraud investigations. To date, this unit has recovered millions of dollars in stolen vessels and investigated thousands of fraud cases.
Daisetta Police Chief Mike Parrish, when introducing the game wardens, talked a bit about the series of meetings that he has entitled, "Behind the Badges." Parrish elaborated, "The Behind the Badges Series is merely a tool that we're using to introduce city, county, state, and federal agencies to the public, some of which may not have the slightest idea of the different functions of these various agencies. We want to show the public how these agencies serve the citizens and how all agencies, in some fashion, work with all other agencies to mutually benefit investigations thereby serving the public to the best of our ability. By bringing all the different facets of law enforcement together, I think it's easier to understand the bigger picture of law enforcement as a whole."
Parrish told a short story, "About twenty-five years ago I was involved in an arrest situation in a rough neighborhood and, while I was reasonably sure I would be able to take the suspect in custody, there was a small crowd that had decided they would take the suspect away from me. It was one of those times when a police officer calls for help and seconds seem like hours but help did come. Officers from neighboring cities, sheriff's deputies, state troopers, and I'll never forget that there was a game warden, pulling a boat, who arrived on scene to help me. That game warden was Mike Boone." Parrish went on to say, "I told you this story because I wanted you to see that we are all Texas Peace Officers regardless of the badge we wear or the agency that holds our commission. Mike Boone is a Game Warden but he and Game Warden Noxon are law enforcement officers first."
There were plenty of laughs and lots of questions from young and old alike as Noxon and Boone spoke about some of their exploits as both game wardens and cast members of the Animal Planet hit television series "Lone Star Law." Animal Planet expanded its family of wildlife law enforcement series, adding to Maine's "North Woods Law" an offering that follows an elite patrol force in Texas. "Lone Star Law" features the men and women of the Texas Game Wardens who protect more than a quarter-million square miles of deserts, lakes, piney woods, bayous, plains and coast in the second-largest state in the U.S. Whether rushing to investigate poaching cases, save flash-flood victims, disrupt illegal smuggling rings, or rescue injured wildlife, the officers are always on the go, defending both animals and the 27 million citizens of Texas. "Lone Star Law" just began it's fourth season. "Game Warden applications are at a record high," laughed Boone.
Chief Parrish reminded attendees that the next "Behind the Badges" meeting would be held in the conference room of the Hull-Daisetta Volunteer Fire Department located at 703 S. Main in Daisetta. Parrish stated that the featured speaker on Monday, November 12, 2018 at 7:00 PM would be Special Ranger Jimmy Belt of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Special Ranger Belt will be speaking about the five-million-dollars of recovered farm and ranch equipment, and some 10,000 head of livestock, that were recovered by approximately 26 Special Rangers all across Texas last year. Special Ranger Belt is a 40-year veteran law enforcement officer who has served most of his tenure within Liberty County, however, his jurisdiction is now comprised of 12 counties. The Daisetta Police Department cordially invites the public to attend.