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Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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July 04, 2008

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Down With Deputies?

     "These deputies have too much power ... They can arrest anyone, anywhere, at any time, and they're not professionals. They're cowboys with guns."
     This is a comment by Pa. State Senator Gibson Armstrong, who has proposed an amendment that would severely restrict the power of part-time deputy wildlife conservation officers. According to this story published by the timesleader.com, if passed, the measure would strip the state's wardens of the authority to -- get this -- stop and inspect vehicles, go on private property, search people, camps or cabins, or drive state law enforcement vehicles with sirens and lights.
     The story is quick to point out that Sen. Armstrong's proposal comes after his son's citation by a deputy. The 37-year-old son had already pleaded guilty to offenses of resisting or interfering with an officer, disorderly conduct, driving away to avoid an inspection, and failure to produce identification to an officer, for which he had been fined almost $1,300. The son, however, contends that the charges were baseless, and that he only pleaded guilty because the matter was interfering with his ability to get licenses for his business.
     Now, I wasn't there, at the side of the road in Lower Chanceford Township, Pa., on the dark and chilly night when the citation-producing incident occurred, so it's hard to know what side to take in such a he-said / he-said situation. However, it seems reasonable to suggest that the elder Armstrong has perhaps taken things a tad too far.
     What's your read? And have you ever had an encounter with a CO that made you want to strip every deputy everywhere of their authority?  -K.H.


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What a joke! If that amendment is allowed to pass, and the deputies are stripped of the authority to do their jobs, the folks in PA are going to have an even bigger problem on thier hands! Landowners will be screaming about the lack of COs to enforce the game laws, because nobody's gonna' want a job where the ability to do that job is so restricted. The senator is way out of line on this one. And the 37 yr. old KID could have prevented the whole debacle if he had complied with the officer's request.

NorCal Cazadora

One bad encounter with a cop, but I took it for what it was - an encounter with a BAD cop.

Sen. Armstrong sounds petty and thoughtless. Someone needs to tell him game wardens serve a really important role in the hunting community, keeping people honest and going after the idiots who give hunting a bad name. That role is important enough that it's worth putting up with any bad apples - if in fact the guy in question actually was a bad apple.

Laura Bell

Here's an idea:
Why not push for the deputies to have more training, rather than strip away practically everything needed to do a CO job?
I would say someone is just a bit ticked off over something that happened, although you never know.
Almost every year I've had a CO check my license, etc. Some try and push you a little more than others about things, but overall I have great respect for CO's and the job they do.

Tom Sorenson

My thoughts are as Jan's - if they strip away the power - who's going to want this job? Nobody. So then what do we have? Chaos.

Lou Alexander

Umm, here and Kansas the CO's are few and far between, so if you encounter one you are more than likely doing something wrong. Otherwise they are all great guys (and gals) doing a fantastic job for crappy pay, they don't need their hands tied doing their jobs.

Armstrong's son is a big fat baby and needs to grow up and face the consequences for doing something wrong, not his daddy changing the law, and taking all the rational laws off the books as a result, for him.

Heaven help us if this passes.

Swamp Rat

I don't know about where y'all live, but down in the south, CO's are technically state police officers who are on the DNR payroll. This means they can pull over speeders, inspect boats, and check duck blinds.

How are they not professionals? 100% of CO's were previously either 1) state police, 2) military police, or 3) wildlife biologists.

If a CO pulled you over, would you speed away without showing him your license? Of course not, because that would be RETARDED.

This is much ado about nothing.

Harry Hohenstein

The people should remove this Senator. He does not have the welfare of the people in mind.


If I am not mistaken, DEPUTY Conservation Officers in PA take the "job" voluntarily. I believe that most of them give their time to help protect our natural resources from those who don't respect them and/or who want to exploit them to their own advantage. What, because a politician's "kid" gets caught doing something wrong that means it is the fault of the "bad cop"?? Since when? How about we start taking a look at all the bad politicians who feel they can abuse their PUBLIC OFFICE? Being a CO or Deputy CO or other law enforcement officer is tough enough without underhanded tactics being employed by the politically connected or wealthy. What happened to "FOR the people, BY the people..."


I am from PA although not from that part of the state but this Sen. is ridiculous. Our deputy COs are volunteer, and have to pay for uniforms, firearms, and everything else they need for the job. Most of the time they put way more money into the job then they our being compensated for but they do it for the good of the people and wildlife. It's the same thing as our volunteer fire departments. Think about it where would we be without these guys. The wildlife bioligist are hurting our deer herd enough we don't need a bunch of outlaws running through the woods w/out having to worry about the possibility of coming in contact w/ an officer. I say we strip this Senator of his powers and give our hard working COs more oppurtunity to uphold the laws of the land!!


Well, I don't know about the Dep. Co.in PA., BUT, I know that here in my home town in KY, The new Dep. Sherifs would run all hours of the night with sirens blaring. I know that this small town did not have that much trouble every night. I, ve had the pass me on the Interstate between the two major townsin our county going 100mph,no lights or sirens, only to meet them going back the other way , Some complained about this and know what, It quit. A lot of people (Not implying that this happens in PA) when they pin a badge and gun on, they are something else. I know that law enforcement is indeed a very necessary and dangerous job.

Renny Seymour

Did the fellow do anything other than not cooperate? Is it not possible that the CO was a jerk?


Sounds like a senator that should be voted out of office. Apparently he thinks that his son (who should be an adult by age 37, but apparently is not) shouldn't have to abide by the law. This is jus another person who thinks that they are the privileged class that only makes rules and laws for their minions to follow, but not for themselves or their relatives.

Jim in Mo.

Here in Mo I have the utmost respect for our COs. Never, repeat never had a bad experience with even one. Why would I, I obey the laws. I'll bet that boy ahem man had made his own set of game laws.
BTW, in Missouri a CO is considered a peace officer. That officer has no boundaries from north to south. But with budgets getting tighter there are fewer of them and bigger territory to cover. So anyone performing in a temporary role should be given the same power as the fully assigned officer.