No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
In 1866, the Vermont Legislature approved and appoint what was called the Board of Fish Commissioners. Ten years later the legislature granted authority to that board over birds and mammals. There were major concerns voiced by citizens who believed Vermont was being over-harvested when it came to fish and wildlife, and too many forested areas were being clear cut for farming. The board’s job was to find solutions to this apparent problem. Eventually the board was renamed the Vermont Fish and Game Commission, and the agency’s manpower was expanded, to create consistency in enforcement, management harvests, and eliminating loss of habitat. In 1983, they were rebranded Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to reflect their involvement with all species of animals in the State. The department has a quirk in their organization that makes them unique from all other law enforcement agencies. The home phone numbers of all Game Wardens are published to the public, because their job is described as “on-call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our next officer lived the job description to a fault.
Game Warden Arnold J Magoon
In the very late hours of the night of Wednesday, April 26th, 1978 18-year veteran of Vermont Fish & Game Department (VFGD), Game Warden Arnold J Magoon was at his home and station post, in Brandon, Vermont, when he heard a gunshot in the middle of the night. With Warden Magoon’s home being close to State Forests, he suspected he was hearing the results of a poacher. He got into his patrol vehicle and headed in the direction of where he believed the gun shot to have originated from, about a half mile from his home. Warden Magoon discovered three men in a vehicle, who were known deer poachers. The three men started arguing with Warden Magoon, and then one of the men, Scott Johnson, began fighting with Warden Magoon. During the fight, Warden Magoon’s flashlight, a heavy six-cell Maglite, was loose, at which point Johnson grabbed a hold of it, striking Warden Magoon three times on his head. Warden Magoon was eventually taken to a hospital, where he died on Thursday, April 27th, 1978.
Scott Johnson was sentenced to a paltry six to twenty years in 1978. It is unknown where he is today, or what happened to him. What is known is that he had to relocate from Brandon prior to the completion of trial, and even then, could not go back to the area to collect his belongings, he was so reviled in Brandon. Regardless, he’s managed to live his life, while Warden Magoon passed. His wife and two sons are left to bear the burden, brought on over a deer shot out of season.
In memory of Game Warden Arnold J Magoon.