Newport State Police Fish and Wildlife Trooper Honored

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division recently recognized the outstanding work of Senior Trooper Heather Van Meter, from the Marine Fisheries Team – Newport, when Captain Jeff Samuels announced that she was the recipient of the Division’s “Trooper of the Year” award for 2015. Senior Trooper Heather Van Meter was presented the award at a special gathering held on July 7, 2016 at the Oregon State Police General Headquarters in Salem. The presentation of the award celebrates and recognizes the outstanding work by an OSP Fish and Wildlife trooper in protecting Oregon’s citizens and natural resources.

Prior to being assigned to the Marine Fisheries Team, Senior Trooper Van Meter was a member of the NW Region South Coast Team — Newport assigned as an Oregon Plan Trooper concentrating on watershed and environmental issues. Senior Trooper Van Meter has completed several noteworthy investigations this past year to include the following:

Starting in 2012 through 2014, Senior Trooper Van Meter began receiving information and looking into a Depoe Bay fishing charter business for possible angling license violations where the business was charging a license fee to customers but not actually issuing them an ODFW angling license. Through hard work and perseverance, Senior Trooper Van Meter was able to develop enough information in 2015 to apply for search warrants on the business and 11 associated charter vessels.

After the search warrants, Senior Trooper Van Meter and the Division detectives worked to compile the evidence, which resulted in Grand Jury indictments for Felony Racketeering. The principle suspects recently pled guilty. The business pled guilty to Racketeering, the principles pled guilty to a Wildlife Misdemeanor, with orders to pay over $115,000 in restitution and to sell the business and not to engage in any Oregon charter fishing business for life.

In 2012, Senior Trooper Van Meter discovered an old bear bait station in east Lincoln County. As part of her tenacity, she checked on this bait site every year since and in the spring of 2015, as she was checking the area on foot she observed an unidentified subject leaving the bait station who had just put out fresh bear bait.

Jul2016 Trooper of the Year - Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division - Senior Trooper Heather Van Meter, from the Marine Fisheries Team - NewportThe following day, Senior Trooper Van Meter, with the assistance of other team members, re-entered the area to put up video surveillance. As the Troopers were in the area, the suspect arrived at the bait sight and was contacted entering the area with fresh bait, a rifle, bow, tree stand, and a valid tag for another unit. The suspect later pled guilty and received license suspensions, and over $1,000 in fines.

Each of the above cases illustrates Senior Trooper Van Meter’s tenacious attitude to keep going where others may have given up or moved on to other tasks. Additionally, Senior Trooper Van Meter was instrumental in two derelict vessels being removed from Yaquina Bay and discovered dozens of commercial fish violations along the coast by pouring over a magnitude of commercial fish landing information from ODFW. She is also is assigned as one of two vessel operators of the Division’s 50 foot patrol vessel named the “Guardian”.

Senior Trooper Van Meter is well respected by the District Attorney’s Office and the local judges which is evident in her ability to build and maintain strong relationships with our partner agencies. She is always willing to tackle any assignment and is involved in the community through the local 4H chapter and Hunter Education. Senior Trooper Heather Van Meter is to be commended for her dedication and commitment to protecting Oregon’s citizens and natural resources. She performs at a high standard, has a great work ethic, strong interpersonal skills and is involved in the community outside of work.