The fifth meeting in a series of “Behind the Badges” gatherings hosted by Daisetta Police Department and Chief Mike Parrish, was held on Oct. 29 and spotlighted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens Mike Boone and Jake Noxon.
Game Wardens Boone and Noxon are also cast members from Animal Planet’s hit television series titled “Lone Star Law,” which has just begum filming for its fourth season.
Twenty-six-year veteran game warden Mike Boone greeted the citizens of Daisetta, and greater surrounding areas, as he and Noxon spoke about the the life of a Texas 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.
“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,” he said. “There will be a background check where Texas Parks and Wildlife will interview most everybody you know. Practice solid ethics, respect others, obey the law and your parents, and nothing will stand in
Noxon, a six-year game warden, added, “If this life (as a 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.”
Noxon described the term ‘blue badges,’ referring to the positions he and Boone hold with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“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 said.
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 TPWD 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).
An online resource on the TPWD website describes the SAR as an enhancement to 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.
Noxon then 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 titled, “Behind the Badges.”
“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,” the chief said.
He shared a story about an incident that took place 25 years ago when he was involved in an arrest situation in a rough neighborhood.
“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 said.
He continued, “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,” in its fourth season, features Texas game wardens.
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. The featured speaker on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m., is Special Ranger Jimmy Belt of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Belt will be speaking about the $5 million 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.
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 the meeting.