Shikar-Safari honors FWC Officer of the Year Bryan Fugate
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
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Officer Bryan Fugate is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) 2013 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Fugate, who works in Monroe County in the agency’s South B Region, was recognized April 18 by Shikar-Safari Club International during the FWC’s Commission meeting at the Florida Public Safety Institute near Tallahassee.
Shikar-Safari is a conservation-based organization that presents awards annually to wildlife law enforcement officers in all states, provinces and territories in the United States and Canada. The annual award honors a state officer whose efforts show outstanding performance and achievement among sworn fish and wildlife law enforcement personnel.
Fugate stood out among the FWC’s 853 officers in the field and has proved to be an exemplary officer and an asset to the state’s citizens and natural resources. In 2012, his notable activities included work combating trap-robbing, a case involving the poaching of a loggerhead sea turtle found in the woods on Big Pine Key and proactive efforts to deter criminal activity at state park events and on the Keys’ Greenways and Trails.
“Officer Fugate made some great cases last year. He stood up for Florida’s natural resources as well as its law-abiding fishermen and boaters. However, his tactics and attitude are what really set him apart,” said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement in explaining why the FWC named him Officer of the Year.
Fugate has fostered strong working relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement partners and regularly participates in several joint-agency task forces, Brown noted.
To combat trap-robbing and other violations, Fugate has incorporated trail “cams” into his marine resource investigations.
“Through strategically placed cameras, he and fellow officers have been able to observe suspect vessels entering and leaving locations of criminal activity and photograph violators approaching and removing illegal fish traps,” Brown said.
Now, more officers are utilizing this surveillance method to increase their productivity.
“Officer Fugate’s skills and ingenuity, combined with his dedicated, positive attitude make him an excellent FWC officer,” Brown said.
One other important aspect of Fugate’s work is his willingness to reach out to the community, particularly youth.
“Officer Fugate teaches at the Boy Scout camp on Summerland Key and at the Florida Keys Community College School of Public Safety,” Brown said. “He also maintains positive contacts with local charter boat captains.”
Fugate’s passion for protecting Florida’s people and natural resources had early beginnings. He was raised in Desoto County, where his mother was an officer with the Arcadia Police Department and his father was Sheriff of Desoto County. He grew up hunting, fishing, riding horses and running cattle on the family ranch.
As a young man in the outdoors, he met many FWC officers and developed an admiration and respect for the work they do. After earning a business degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, he achieved his goal in May 2009 of becoming an FWC officer.
“We’re fortunate to have Officer Fugate on our team,” Brown said. “He not only provides exceptional service on a daily basis, but he sets an example for fellow officers as well.”