Niagara County officer receives Officer of the Year Award for Outstanding Service
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Nathan VerHague was named the 2014 New York Officer of the Year by the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association. NECLECA consists of the law enforcement chiefs from 13 Northeastern states, three Eastern provinces of Canada, and the U.S. and Canadian Federal Conservation Law Enforcement agencies.
"DEC's environmental conservation officers are on the front line daily in their efforts to protect our wildlife, natural resources and citizens," DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said. "Throughout his career, ECO VerHague has demonstrated outstanding service and commitment that has earned the respect of both the public and his peers. I extend my congratulations to him on this well-deserved honor."
ECO VerHague has served with distinction in DEC's division of law enforcement for 12 years. Born and raised in Niagara County, VerHague graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with degrees in fisheries and wildlife technologies, and wildlife management. After completing DEC's 15th Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2004, he was assigned to patrol the Huntington and Brookhaven areas of Long Island. Two years later, he transferred home to Western New York, where he has been stationed since.
ECO VerHague currently patrols Niagara County, where he enforces New York's environmental conservation laws to protect the area's natural resources and investigates hunting, poaching and environmental quality violations. Among his many recent successful fish and wildlife investigations was a case that resolved the poisoning death of three bald eagles through illegal pesticide use. He also supported emergency response efforts during "Superstorm" Sandy and Buffalo's 2014 record snowstorm.
VerHague is a certified police instructor in general topics, field training, safeboat operation and firearms instruction. He also has completed certification in heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions inspection, radiation detection, RADAR operation and DWI detection/field sobriety testing. In addition, he serves as a member of the division of law enforcement's environmental conservation law instruction and trapping enforcement teams.
VerHague is known for his adaptability, strong work ethic and outstanding commitment to his profession. He routinely supports the region's youth waterfowl and pheasant hunts, helping to mentor the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen and to pass on the importance of safe hunting traditions, conservation ethics and environmental stewardship.
While home in Niagara County, VerHague spends his spare time outdoors with his wife and four children.
Each year, NECLECA sponsors an award for the Conservation Officer of the Year, acknowledging the important role conservation police officers play in local, national and international wildlife conservation.