Eileen Ritter, a Maryland Natural Resources Police officer who lives in Sykesville, has been named "Outstanding Officer of the Year" by the Maryland Bowhunters Society.
Officer Ritter, the DNR's first female officer assigned to inland duties -- she now works in Carroll -- was chosen because of her "significant achievements" in wildlife management enforcement and other activities, said Russell Nichols, a past president of the Maryland Bowhunters Society.
"She was definitely what we considered an outstanding nominee," Mr. Nichols said. "She really has done some outstanding things in working against poaching and illegal hunting in the Liberty watershed reservoir."
Flying in a helicopter, Officer Ritter used the DNR's infrared radar system to track illegal hunters in the watershed. The heat-seeking device detects hunters despite their best camouflage efforts, Mr. Nichols said.
As a result, Officer Ritter identified 35 hunters in the watershed area. Ground patrols went in and cited eight hunters, issued four warnings, and seized a rifle and two deer.
Mr. Nichols said Officer Ritter also has logged the most hours of any DNR police officer in the northern region using a deer decoy to deter road hunting and catch poachers.
"She's been very innovative and has shown a lot of initiative," said DNR Police Col. Frank Wood. "She's the type of officer we look for because they believe in what they're doing.
"It's not just a job to them. It's a life. That type of dedication always tends to bring about [a] good quality officer. She's very good with the public."
This is the first year that the Bowhunters Society, which was formed in 1978 to promote bowhunting safety and education, has honored a DNR officer.
"I was really tickled," Officer Ritter said. "When the Bowhunters first solicited names, I was impressed they wanted to recognize the department and took it upon themselves to recognize an officer."
The Cumberland native attributed the successful Liberty watershed sweep to planning and teamwork.
"You have to have the other officers there to help you," she said. "I'm really tickled they recognized me, but a lot of things I do involved cooperation of other officers."
Officer Ritter joined the agency in 1981 as a cadet and worked at a variety of jobs throughout the state. She graduated from the NRP Academy in 1981 and was assigned to Montgomery County. She was transferred to Carroll County in 1983.
She is a certified agency firearms instructor, an experienced hunter- and boater-safety instructor and serves as a field training officer. She has been involved with youth, participating in the "Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs," and "Drowning Is No Accident" programs.