Steve Crown, an 11-year veteran with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, was promoted Aug. 30 as the head of the agency’s enforcement division.
Crown, a lieutenant, has been in charge of the enforcement program’s training and hiring at WDFW Police Headquarters in Olympia for the past six years. He replaces Bruce Bjork, who retired after 43 years of state service, including 15 as the leader of the enforcement program.
As chief, Crown will be in charge of 166 employees, including 144 commissioned officers and 22 noncommissioned staff. According to the department, officers make more than 225,000 enforcement contacts in the field in a typical year.
The program’s primary role “is to preserve, protect, and perpetuate Washington’s fish and wildlife.” Officers also respond to public safety issues such as human-wildlife conflicts, natural disasters, critical incidents and general law enforcement calls. Staffers also run the state’s hunter education program.
“Steve brings a well-rounded law enforcement background to his new position, as well as a passion for the state’s natural resources,” department director Phil Anderson said in a news release. “The enforcement program plays a key role in helping the department achieve our mission and meet our legal responsibilities. I am confident Steve will maintain and enhance the consistent and professional approach that has been a hallmark of Chief Bjork’s tenure.”
Crown is a graduate of the University of Idaho and spent 11 years with the Wenatchee Police Department before joining the state fish and wildlife agency in 2002. He was chosen to take over the program after a national recruitment and interview process. To ease the transition, Crown has been working alongside Bjork for the past month.
“Bruce Bjork is one of this state’s most highly respected law enforcement leaders,” Crown said in the news release. “I am honored and excited to lead the enforcement program and to build upon his accomplishments.”
During Bjork’s tenure, the department made investments in cutting-edge law enforcement technology that increased officers’ efficiency and improved their ability to apprehend violators, according to the release. He also helped establish the department as a general authority police agency and was instrumental in the passage of legislation that increased penalties for violations such as spree killing and poaching trophy-class big-game animals.