Lance Corporal Blake Baxley from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is the 2021 Colonel Brantley SEAFWA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
This officer consistently exceeds expectations in all aspects of his job. He strives to be perfect, always pays attention to detail, and his work ethic sets the bar for his unit. He has followed in his father’s footsteps and became a game warden in 2015. He is a K-9 Handler, Hunting Incident Investigator, Specific Skills Instructor, Data-Master Operator, and an SFST Instructor.
With his K-9 partner Arya, together, they have been on over 30 deployments this past year which resulted in cases for night hunting, renegade hunter act violation, dove violations, waterfowl violations, trespass to hunt turkey, and turkey bait.
They have also assisted counties and state agencies with multiple missing persons (including two missing juveniles who were later located.
Despite working over 448 hours in K-9 activity for 2020 he continues to be a leader in his unit. During 2020, he reported: 344 violations, assisted with 56 other cases, conducted 184 hours of boat patrols, inspected 534 boats, checked 230 fishermen and 717 hunters, completed 249 hours of night patrol, provided 8 public presentations, and spent 129 hours assisting other agencies.
In addition to these work accomplishments, he assists every year with the Pintail Partners hunt in his area on the Federal Youth Waterfowl Day. This hunt involves over 80 youth each year and gives them a first-class waterfowl hunting experience. He is an avid cook and assists an agency support team in cooking for various award ceremonies and functions throughout the year.
His persistence, positivity, and professionalism influence everyone around him. He is always on time, dressed in the proper uniform, and represents his department proudly. He has a “can-do” work mentality and doesn’t mind taking on any task that is asked of him.