Raleigh Constituent Investigates The Clyde Coffey Shooting


Our occasional correspondent from Raleigh, Raleigh Constituent,regales us with another telephone adventure.

For a link to the NC Wildlife Resources Page with .PDF Files of Wildlife Enforcement Officer Standards and Qualifications CLICK HERE

Posted with no additional comment:

Dear John Jacob,

As I have explained in the past I occasionally tangle with bureaucrats in government because my proximity here in Raleigh make them a somewhat irresistible target.

Once again a simple inquiry to what should have been a yes- or-no question became something of a quest as I bounced through various layers of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Bureaucracy in my attempt to ascertain over the phone whether they were a CALEA (Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies) Certified Agency

I must tell you this telephone visit with the Wildlife Resources Commission is consistent with previous telephone visits in that the people in Wildlife Resources are universally helpful and cheerful and dare I say intelligent people who really do offer their best help to the public when they call about some hunting related issue. They all seem to have attended the same finishing school and unfailing treat me in the manner I like to think I treat phone inquiries to my phone number.

When asked to identify myself I said I preferred to remain a hunter and member of the public engaged in a routine inquiry. They accepted this without comment and continued to help me to the best of their ability. These folks could give lessons to other bureaucracies on how to deal with the public.

All that said, my initial question: Is NC Wildlife Enforcement a CALEA certified agency? drew a complete blank from the person/people on the other end. The Enforcement Division is not directly listed in the Raleigh Phone Book so I called a number which I judged most likely to be able to answer my question.

However, they did diligently connect me with a sworn LEO (a Lieutenant) who said he was familiar with CALEA, but to the best of his knowledge the agency was not so certified. He did mention all officers carried a book of some sort which outlined their duties and responsibilities. It was about the size of binder which could have revisions inserted as needed.

The Lieutenant also suggested I call his boss who oversaw all training related issues. In addition he gave me a phone number for the Public Liaison or Public Information Officer.

The Public Liaison, while not a sworn LEO, was a complete professional filled with a wealth of information about the Wildlife Enforcement Division. If I quote him correctly, he offered the following details about Wildlife LEOs:

There are approximately 300 applicants for about a dozen slots at a 19 week training Academy or “boot camp” of which only 10 successfully graduate.

In their 19 weeks of study all candidates undergo the NC State Standard Basic Law Enforcement Training after which they are sworn to enforce State and FEDERAL Violations. (Yeah, that is kind of an eyebrow raiser)

When I gently turned the conversation to the Clyde Coffey shooting, the formerly effusive Public Liaison immediately clammed up citing “an ongoing internal investigation”.

Since he could not talk to me, I asked if I could talk to him with some comments about the incident. He said he would take notes and pass them along.

I proffered the notion this incident was not local to Wilkes County, but was a statewide problem since hunters could no longer be confident about their interactions with Wildlife Enforcement. We may have crossed the Rubicon where the bond of trust between Investigators and the public has been seriously damaged.

Unlike Clyde Coffey I am not 76 years old, so if approached by a stranger in the woods, it will be my policy to immediately call 911 from a cell phone so some version of the incident will go on record in real time. I have the technology and know how to use it.

I further offered the observation the standard issue uniform of khaki shirt and forest green pants has always struck me as a recipe for disaster since I was advised in a hunter safety course Wildlife Officers are not required to wear blaze orange during deer season as they tramp through the woods.

Just one of several odd things about Wildlife Regulations long overdue for review.

Regardless of safe hunting practices and rigorous Law Enforcement training it may be time to overhaul protocols for public/LEO interactions.

In an era when a 6 foot 8 inch tall 300 pound North Carolina parolee can walk around Gaffney, South Carolina and kill 5 people in a week, no one should have to apologize for their caution when a man who claims to be Law Enforcement approaches you in the woods and declares his intention to disarm you.

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