Conservation officer receives high honor

WFF Law Enforcement Chief Matt Weathers presents Officer Jason Bassett with the SSCI Alabama Wildlife Officer of the Year Award. 

Jason Bassett has been named Alabama Wildlife Officer of the Year by the Shikar-Safari Club International (SSCI). Bassett currently serves as a Senior Conservation Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) in St. Clair Co. Each year, SSCI honors one officer from each state with the award. Recently, Bassett was presented with the award at WFF headquarters in Montgomery. "What truly sets officer Bassett apart are his personal qualities," said Lt. Jerry Fincher, WFF District Two Law Enforcement Supervisor. "He is loyal to a fault, honorable, level-headed, and a true team player. You will never hear Jason boasting. Instead, he'll stand in the shadows of his own accomplishments, realizing his is blessed to be a link in the chain of conservation stewardship."

Officer Bassett routinely makes a high number of quality arrests, including some unusual cases involving electro-fishing and cheating in bass tournaments. Recently, Officer Bassett played a vital role in stopping the over-harvest of game fish in St. Clair County. The case involved the illegal taking of massive amounts of stripped and hybrid bass from public waters to be sold in restaurant and fish markets across the Southeast.

Bassett hid himself on dams and among rocks to observe and record the illegal activity, while his fellow officers stood by at off-site locations to intercept the violators. Thanks in part to his efforts, regulations are now in place to prevent this type of wildlife violation in the future. In the more than 15 years that Bassett has served the people of Alabama as a Conservation Enforcement Officer, he has not only prevented hundreds of wildlife violations, he has also saved the lives of some of his fellow officers. He saved Lt. Fincher's life by performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Fincher at a restaurant, and he saved Officer Greg Gilliland from being run-down by a vehicle during a confrontation with a violator.

"Officer Bassett's selfless service to his state and his fellow officers is an example for all to follow," says Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. "For those reasons and many more, Jason is very deserving of this award." In addition to his duties with WFF, Bassett is an FBI-certified firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor, Glock and M16 armorer, and a Becoming an Outdoor Woman instructor. He also serves as an adjunct instructor at the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy, where he teaches firearms and self-defense tactics to recruits.

SSCI is an international conservation organization that funds and supports a variety of conservation projects and scholarships around the world. SSCI also provides a $20,000 death benefit to the officer's family in the event the officer is killed in the line of duty.

Contributing Writer