Brown County officer up for state awards

A Brown County conservation officer is in the running for two state awards.

Indiana Conservation Officer Joseph Tenbarge of Nashville was named Officer of the Year and Boating Officer of the Year for District 6, which includes Hancock, Marion, Hendricks, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, Bartholomew, Brown and Monroe counties.

District Officer of the Year is voted on by his peers.

In May, he’ll learn if he won the statewide Boating Officer of the Year award or the James D. Pitzer Conservation Officer of the Year award, among nominees from 10 Indiana districts.

“Despite being a young, new officer, Officer Tenbarge has quickly earned the respect of his peers based on his work ethic, professionalism and demeanor,” the Indiana Conservation Officers reported in a press release.

“Officer Tenbarge is extremely knowledgeable of all the laws and rules, is a sound investigator, has become a dependable resource in his community, and eagerly takes on additional tasks.”

Tenbarge, now 26, began his career in 2011, assigned to Brown County.

“Joe works very closely with local law enforcement agencies, and it is not uncommon for them to contact him directly for assistance, on and off duty,” ICO reported, mentioning the sheriff’s department and Brown County state park staff.

Some of his achievements the ICO noted from 2015:

  • He responded to a call from Monroe County on the way home from a training day to help catch a suspect who fled from multiple police agencies. Tenbarge launched a boat on Monroe Reservoir, spotted the suspect from the boat, and took him into custody.
  • He spent all night searching for a missing person in flash-flood waters in Brown County. He was sent home to change clothes and then reported to a statewide dive meeting out of the district.
  • He made an arrest for boating while intoxicated on an area police officer.
  • He completed an extensive investigation at Brown County State Park which started with a suspicious person call. Several arrests were made for drugs and wanted persons. The case resulted in a burglary in Morgan County being solved and launched an investigation into the use of stolen credit cards.

ICO also noted that Tenbarge volunteered to work numerous weekends that he had scheduled off, or extended his normal shift.

He often patrols Lake Monroe. He reported 85 hours dedicated to boating enforcement above normal patrol.

Tenbarge also has made public appearances at schools, teaching water safety and putting on SCUBA demonstrations, and at fire departments to teach swift water safety.

“Tenbarge exemplifies the ideals of a seasoned officer,” ICO’s announcement said.