Friday, January 14, 2011

Embattled state wildlife officer still doing his job

Any speculative whisperings or murmuring that embattled Ohio Division of Wildlife officer Allan Wright is laying low on his duties must be placed on the scrap heap of myths.

Wright is the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County and remains at the core of a controversy that still swirls around five former and current Wildlife Division top officials.

These officials remain under felony indictments filed by Brown County prosecutor Jessica Little for allegations they should have pursued criminal charges against Wright instead of issuing an administrative reprimand.

Wright allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his home address in order to obtain an Ohio resident hunting license.

The cases against these officials - which include former agency chief David Graham - are now before the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals following the defendants’ successful arguments in the Brown County Court of Common Pleas.

Also, charges against Wright were dropped by a special prosecutor assigned to the case but who has indicated at least twice that he continues to investigate the matter.

However, Wright has returned to duty, a function he still performs and as indicated by official documents obtained by request from the Wildlife Division.

These figures show that during the 2009 statewide general firearms deer-hunting season, Wright made 37 “contacts” and which resulted in 7 arrests. Of the 28 wildlife officers noted in the supplied document, Wright ranked 14th in the number of contacts and was tied for 8th in the number of arrests. Several other officers reported “ties” in either contacts and/or arrests.
hat year the greatest number of contacts was made by wildlife officer Ryan Garrison of Mercer County with 117 contacts with 14 arrests (3rd). Wildlife officer assigned to Adams County Chris Gilkey made the most arrests: 17 with 90 contacts.

Also, based on the 2009 gun season officer activity profile, one official made 14 contacts but no arrests, another made 102 contacts and 3 arrests, another 91 contacts and 1 arrest, another made 67 contacts and also 1 arrest. Two officers made zero contacts and thus zero arrests.

As for the recently concluded 2010 firearms deer-hunting season, the report form lists the names of 24 officers. Among them is Wright with made contact with 54 people (ranking 9th) and made 6 arrests (ranking 7th).

The most contacts made was again performed by Garrison at 97 who ranked 4th in arrests with 13. Gilkey made 80 contacts (ranked 3rd) and made 21 arrests (2nd).

Wildlife officer Brad Turner who is assigned to Preble County had the most arrests recorded: 28, and having made 65 contacts - the same for office Matt Hunt who is assigned to Greene County.

Also, four of the listed officer made contacts but no arrests while one officer recorded no contacts and consequently no arrests.

Likewise, it must be noted that both for the number of contacts and arrests, “ties” were recorded.

Overall then, and based upon the data provided by the Wildlife Division, officer Wright continues to perform his required duties and was near the middle of the pack during both years in each of the “contact” and “arrest” categories.

Updates may follow if they become available and if they are required.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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