12/9/16 – SAFMC News Release: Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award


December 9, 2016
(PDF - click here)

Kim Iverson/843-571-4366/kim.iverson@safmc.net

Federal Fishery Council Recognizes Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent Richard Chesler receives annual award

SAFMC Chair, Dr. Michelle Duval awarded NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent, Richard Chesler, the 2015 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award on Friday, December 9, 2016.

Members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council awarded its annual Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to Special Agent Richard Chesler during the Council’s meeting this week in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The annual award recognizes distinctive service, professionalism, and dedication to enforcing fisheries regulations in the South Atlantic. Special Agent Chesler is a criminal investigator assigned to NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement Southeast Division in Port Orange, Florida.

“The Council recognizes the important role that law enforcement plays in effective fisheries management,” said Council Chair Dr. Michelle Duval. “We are fortunate to have dedicated men and women working tirelessly in the field and behind the scenes, at both the state and federal level to help protect our marine resources. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to present the award to Agent Chesler, who has exemplified these characteristics throughout his law enforcement career.”

Special Agent Chesler began his career nearly two decades ago as a U.S. Coast Guard recruit, working counter-drug and U.N. Sanction enforcement in the Caribbean, Eastern Pacific and Northern Arabian Gulf. His duties also included working as a boarding officer enforcing fisheries regulations in the frigid waters off the coast of Alaska, where he developed a passion for natural resources. After leaving active duty, Chesler pursued his interests in conservation by accepting a position as patrol officer for the National Park Service Park Police in the Washington DC area. Before becoming a Special Agent with NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement in 2003 he also worked as a deputy U.S. Marshal.

As a Special Agent for NOAA Fisheries Chesler conducts complex criminal and civil investigations of violations of federal fisheries law under the Magnuson-Stevens Act as well as those impacting endangered species, marine mammals, and regulations covered under the Lacey Act. He also works field enforcement including patrols and surveillance and provides liaison and training as part of the joint enforcement agreement (JEA) with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, working closely with the offshore patrol vessel program. Agent Chesler shares his subject matter expertise on fisheries with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville operations and intelligence departments. With an outgoing personality, SA Chesler has coordinated or participated in numerous outreach events, presented to the Council on law enforcement issues, and authored the law enforcement component of the Oculina Evaluation Plan, outlining enforcement approaches for the managed area.


Since joining NOAA Enforcement he earned a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida and combines his education and unique field experience to provide high-level enforcement training at the state and federal level. Because of his reputation as an instructor, Agent Chesler was selected to participate in international enforcement capacity building for living marine resources, providing training in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Brazil.

“SA Chesler’s tireless work ethic, outstanding liaison with partner agencies, and willingness to take on additional leadership responsibilities has significantly contributed to the overall success of NOAA’s Southeast Office of Law Enforcement,” said Manny Antonaras, Deputy Special Agent in Charge. Chesler recently volunteered for and performed as an acting supervisor. He has also been instrumental in streamlining the processing time for case packages, leading to faster issuance of summary settlements.

“It is both an honor and privilege to join the elite group of fisheries enforcement professionals who have received this award,” said Chesler. “This award is a reflection of the outstanding partnerships I enjoy with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard.  For me, I see it as a team award, I'm just the person accepting it”.

The Council initiated the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in 2010. Nominees may be submitted from each of the southeastern state law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and NOAA Fisheries. The Council’s Law Enforcement Advisory Panel selected three of the nominees for 2015 consideration by the Council. The other nominees were Officer Amos Williams with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Marine Patrol and Officer Clay McDonough with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.