Waterways Conservation Officers Receive Awards

​HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recently recognized several of the agency’s Waterways Conservation Officers (WCO) for their outstanding service to the Commonwealth in 2017.

[Pictured: WCO Merrell receives the Gerald L. Greiner Environmental Protection Award from Board of Commissioners President Rocco Ali (left) and PFBC Executive Director John Arway (right) during the agency’s quarterly business meeting on April 24.]

Gerald L. Greiner Environmental Protection Award

WCO Troy Merrell received the Gerald L. Greiner Environmental Protection Award, which is awarded annually to the officer who best exemplifies the ideals of “Resource First” – the protection, conservation and enhancement of the Commonwealth’s water resources in the performance of their daily duties.

WCO Merrell serves Berks County in the Southeast Region.

“His initiative and strong relationships with the county conservation district and Department of Environmental Protection resulted in WCO Merrell investigating 12 environmental cases in 2017,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Officer Merrell responded to complaints for incidents ranging from sediment pollutions to dam breaches, including several sediment pollutions resulting from a major pipeline installation.”

The award is in memory of WCO Gerald Greiner who dedicated his life to protect, conserve and enhance the southwest region’s water resources; it’s streams, rivers, and lakes. WCO Greiner devoted the majority of his career working in the Three Rivers area investigating pollutions and stream disturbances, sampling industrial and municipal discharges and monitoring the activities of the sand and gravel dredgers. His tough stance on enforcing the various pollution laws brought many violators into compliance. He had developed close working relationships with the DEP, local conservation districts, sportsmen’s clubs and other environmental organizations throughout his career. WCO Greiner was always involved in numerous environmental enhancement projects, litter pick-ups, Youth Field Days and AMD/Pollution abatement projects. His dedication to environmental protection played a part in the recovery of the water quality and fishery of the Three Rivers.

Officer of Year

WCO Matthew Raetsch received the Officer of the Year award for 2017. WCO Raetsch is assigned to the busy Western Allegheny County district, where he has excelled as an officer and representative of the PFBC.

Raetsch-WCO Matthew-2018-04-24-quar-mtg-award

[Pictured: WCO Raetsch receives the Officer of the Year Award from Board of Commissioners President Rocco Ali (left) and PFBC Executive Director John Arway (right) during the agency’s quarterly business meeting on April 24.]

“Matt had an outstanding year in law enforcement activity, exceeding expectations in both boating under the influence (BUI) and apprehension,” said Director Arway. “He has established exemplary law enforcement, education/information, and environmental programs within his current district. He led the region with five BUI arrests and four additional assists. He investigated three boat accidents, including a double fatality and four environmental cases.”

The PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement reviews nominations for this award in participation with the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chief’s Association. Law enforcement activities, relations and outreach, environmental protection, professional skills, job performance, and special accomplishments are key aspects in determining the award winner.

Top Gun

WCO Jacob Bennett (pictured below) received the Top Gun Award for 2017, which recognizes an officer’s outstanding effort in detecting and apprehending impaired boaters during the past year.


WCO Bennett serves in the Northcentral Region, representing Snyder, Union, western Northumberland and Montour counties. The Susquehanna River kept him busy in 2017 with many boating-related incidents. He apprehended six individuals for boating under the influence and assisted other officers within the region.

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