Florida Fish and Wildlife officer from Brevard to be inducted into officer hall of fame Saturday

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Steve Wayne never dreamed that a childhood fishing trip with his uncle would lead to his induction into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Hall of Fame Saturday morning.

As a 15-year-old, he and his uncle were fishing in South Florida when an officer with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission checked to see Wayne's uncle had his fishing license.

"After the officer left, (my uncle) said, 'You know, Steve, that would be a great job for you,'" Wayne said.

The encouragement from his uncle sparked his interest in the field, but it wasn't an easy journey. When he was accepted into the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission's Law Enforcement Academy in 1991, he said he faced doubt from his peers and superiors.

"I was told many, many times that I was too skinny, and what am I doing getting into law enforcement, and I didn't have a (commanding) presence and that kind of thing," the 54-year-old Viera resident said.

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The opposition he faced fueled his desire to work hard and achieve great things within the organization, he said.

Steve Wayne will be inducted into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Hall of Fame Saturday.
Steve Wayne will be inducted into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Hall of Fame Saturday.

Now, a little less than a year after retiring from FWC, Wayne will be inducted into the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Hall of Fame at 11 a.m. Saturday morning at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

"It's a huge, huge honor, huge blessing — something I didn't expect," he said. "It's not only my accomplishment, but it's my family's — the sacrifices they've made, all the years of me working nights and early mornings and holidays, and all the sacrifice and the worry from my family worrying about if I was going to make it home every day."

Wayne began his work as an officer in Okeechobee and Lake County, then in 2003 was promoted to lieutenant and served in Indian River and then Brevard counties.

In 2012, he became FWC's first full-time port investigator. His efforts, which focused on the illegal sale, import, export and commercialization of fish and wildlife resources, created "one of the most successful port investigation units in the nation," FWC said on his nomination form for the hall of fame.

Throughout his career, he served as a field training officer and instructed others in field training, man tracking, port investigations, boating under the influence and airboat operations.

During his time as an officer, FWC awarded him Officer of the Year and Investigator of the Year from FWC. He was also nominated for Investigator of the Year by the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association and accepted the Conservation Law Enforcement Award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies on behalf of FWC.

"Arguably, Investigator Wayne’s efforts were responsible for some of the most transformative changes integrated into the FWC’s enforcement structure and philosophy in the recent past," FWC said on his hall of fame nomination form.

Finch Walker is a Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at 321-290-4744 or fwalker@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @_finchwalker

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Brevard FWC officer will be inducted into officer hall of fame