Area Wildlife Law Enforcers Retire

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Rhea County TWRA Wildlife Officer Burton Capps (pictured left) and TWRA Captain Joe Busch have retired from wildlife law enforcement with a combined sixty years of experience. (Photos courtesy TWRA)

Two longtime wildlife law enforcement officers in Southeast Tennessee have retired.

Captain Joe Busch (pictured right) retired after 30 years with TWRA. Busch started his career as a wildlife officer in McMinn County in 1988 and was promoted to sergeant in 2003. He was the full-time boating officer with TWRA, Law Enforcement District 32 from 2005 until 2008 when he was promoted to district lieutenant. Busch was promoted to district captain in 2012.

Busch has a long list of accolades from his career with TWRA, but there are two awards he’s most proud to have received. Busch was first in the state of Tennessee to receive the Gedeon Petit Memorial Award. This award is for outstanding accomplishments in the area of citizen education, public outreach and community service.

Busch also received the statewide Wildlife Officer of the Year award in 1997. This honor is awarded to those outstanding in areas of innovation, leadership, public education and achievements. Busch also completed many special duty assignments, including disaster response. Busch was part of TWRA’s response team for Hurricane Katrina. Busch stated, “It was an honor to serve with a great team to help those in need.”

Rhea County Wildlife Officer Burton Capps (pictured left) has also retired after nearly 30 years of service. Capps started with the agency in 1989 and has been an asset to Rhea County and the region, known as steadfast and thorough in his work. Major CJ Jaynes said, “Burton was reliable and trustworthy. You could count on his word.”

Capps was instrumental in helping deer herds recover in Rhea County. With just 85 deer harvested in 1980, Capps and his first partner, Wildlife Officer Berny Swiney, greatly reduced illegal activity in the county allowing deer herds to recover. The two also increased patrols on Watts Bar Reservoir, setting a standard which is upheld today. Capps received the region’s Hunter Education Officer of the Year award in 2004 and was very active in Rhea County Schools with hunter education courses. Officer Capps, along with his partner Wildlife Officer Jarod Coxey, worked to incorporate the return of hunter education courses into the Rhea County High School. Capps was also instrumental early in his career for setting up statewide boating training for all TWRA officers at Rhea Harbor.

Capps was quick to sign up for special duties such as River Bend, a nine day festival in Hamilton County, as well as work special assignments to support other officers. Major Jaynes stated, “Many special details involve long hours, hot days and might be several counties away from an officer’s home. Officer Capps was typically one of the first to sign up and would often work every day of a detail along with his regular duties.”

Capps was well known by outdoor enthusiasts in Rhea County. Capp’s partner for a decade, Jarod Coxey shared, “Burton was always there for me. He was an incredibly respectful officer, with exemplary patience. He was a true game warden and will be missed”.

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