Conservation Enforcement Officer Receives Life Saving Award

Morgan County Conservation Enforcement Officer Chris Champion recently received the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association Life Saving Award. The award was presented by Bill Brace, a regional director with NAWEOA.

On September 5, 2003, Officer Champion responded to a call for assistance from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department regarding a man with a gun in the Lacey’s Springs Community. Morgan County Deputies Michael McCoy and Chuck Porter arrived along with Champion at the residence of James E. Hill, 44. Hill came out of his home with a 12-guage shotgun and fired, grazing Deputy McCoy’s head. All three officers took cover and Hill went back inside the house.

Moments later, Hill returned outside and charged Deputy McCoy, shooting him in the upper arm from approximately 8 feet away. Hill again pointed the gun at Deputy McCoy at near point-blank range, at which time Officer Champion demanded that Hill drop his weapon. Hill refused the order and Champion fired one shot, striking McCoy in the abdomen. Hill died later that night in after surgery at a Huntsville hospital.

In saving Deputy McCoy’s life, Officer Champion was selected by NAWEOA to receive their Life Saving Award. NAWEOA is a 9,000-member organization of wildlife and fisheries enforcement officers from across North America. The association was founded in 1980.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Director Corky Pugh said, “Chris Champion epitomizes our highly professional, dedicated law enforcement officers. Our officers are well trained and equipped, and function as an integral part of the overall law enforcement community.”

Conservation Enforcement Officers are state peace officers with full police powers statewide. Chief Enforcement Officer Allan Andress said, “Since the vast majority of people that our officers deal with on a day to day basis are peaceable, law abiding citizens, it is easy to become complacent about officer safety.  It is events such as this that remind us of just how dangerous a Conservation Officer’s job really is.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.