The Roanoke Times, Va., Mark Taylor column [The Roanoke Times, Va.]
(Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 25--In more than 26 years as a police officer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Ron Henry has worked on plenty of cases where secrecy was a must.
His most recent came last week, when he was charged with protecting the name of the agency's next top law enforcement officer.
The name was his own.
DGIF director Bob Duncan delivered news of Henry's promotion at the Oct. 17 meeting of the department's board of directors.
"It was a really well-kept secret," said Henry, who was promoted from major to colonel. "Everyone was trying to figure out who it was."
Henry got his start on the ground in Franklin County, and has been working out of the agency's regional office in Forest since 2001 in an ever-increasing supervisory role.
His most recent position, which he took in 2010, was overseeing DGIF law enforcement operations for two of the agency's four regions.
A resident of Campbell County, he said he will likely commute to Richmond for the time being before relocating next summer.
Henry said a recent morning drive to DGIF headquarters gave him a taste of what is in store.
"I was stuck in traffic for 45 minutes," he said. "There were four lanes, but none of them were moving.
"It's not like going south on 220 from Roanoke to Franklin County."
The agency's Law Enforcement Division has about 165 people, Henry said.
"It's very humbling, but very terrifying in the same vein," he chuckled.
Henry has no shortage of management experience, having overseen 76 officers during his tenure as the top officer for the DGIF's regions covering the counties of Central and Southwest Virginia.
Henry, who turns 49 today, said his previous promotion to major and the role overseeing two regions enabled him to spend some time afield with his charges, particularly those in Southwest Virginia.
Field work is something he hadn't been able to do as much as he'd like since moving into leadership jobs.
"I miss it every day," he said of working in the field. "It's the best job in the world."
A Tennessee native, Henry was hired as a game warden, the former title for DGIF law enforcement officers, in 1987.
"I was from a different state and talked funny," Henry said of his early days in Franklin County. "But I think the people of Franklin County kind of took me in."
While patrolling the county's woods and waters, including Smith Mountain Lake, Henry got to know the county's outdoorsmen.
Avid hunter and angler Steve Stone of Roanoke got a taste of Henry's dedication in the mid-1990s, when Stone and a buddy were on a midnight mission to place old Christmas trees to provide fish cover in Smith Mountain Lake, something many anglers do on the sly.
After setting out one load of trees, the two fishermen were coming in for a second load when they saw a dark green SUV speed down toward the dock.
Stone, laughing, recalled how he turned his boat around and sped off, telling his buddy he was sure driver of the SUV had been a game warden.
Returning an hour later, the men again saw the SUV approach. After that, they laid low until dawn then eventually returned to the dock area.
Henry was still there, having hidden out in the pile of prickly Christmas trees for five hours in sub-freezing temperatures.
"We got quite the lecture," Stone said, laughing. "I said, 'Just write me the ticket.' "
Henry was the DGIF's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2001, and the National Wild Turkey Federation's National Officer of the Year in 2002. Also in 2002, he was named the National Boating Law Administrators Boating Officer of the Year.
Henry was in the news again in 2003, but this time for a different reason.
That June, Henry was standing alongside a road in Pittsylvania County when he motioned for the driver of an all terrain vehicle to pull over.
The driver, a 15-year-old boy, rammed Henry with the ATV and fled.
His leg gruesomely broken, Henry endured months of painful rehab before he was able to return to work.
He eventually made a full recovery, and even earned the prestigious Yellow Brick fitness award at the FBI's National Academy, which Henry attended for three months in 2008.
Henry said the day his hiring was announced the agency also got a report on a study on the department's law enforcement division.
The division got generally high marks, and also some feedback on areas for improvement.
Henry said he is eager to get to work on further improving the division, but wouldn't provide specific details.
"I don't want to give away all of my secrets," he said.
(c)2013 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.)
Visit The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.) at www.roanoke.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]