Lt. Eckhardt said there were several cases this year where Watkin demonstrated his skills as an investigator. “These were really good cases, that took knowledge and interviews and extra effort.” He said that among these cases was one involving the feeding of bears at a residence, two instances of illegal taking of deer, and an incident with an ATV. “With the bear case, he had to get a search warrant, and he took a little extra effort in the investigation. The deer incidents involved four guys in two separate illegal takings of deer. The case relied on an anonymous tip, followed up by Rich using his interview skills.” He said that Watkin had received a complaint of ATVs on private and state property, and that Watkin’s work resulted in two men being identified. “They both were eventually arrested. He chased one and caught him after his ATV got stuck, and figured out who the other person was.”
Lt. Eckhardt said that Watkin was not only tenacious, but also respectful of people. “He is good with people, very courteous. Rich is respected by people, and if you treat people well, even guys who have broken the law, most people will be like, ‘okay, you got me.’ It’s a skill he has.” He also praised Watkin’s work ethic and his professional training.
Watkin said he enjoyed the technical training that he had received, and that the knowledge he gained helped him solve puzzles. “Hopefully I won’t have to make use of it, but I did a training in boat accident reconstruction in Cleveland. It’s very interesting to learn how to take evidence from a scene, and figure out what happened.” Watkin said that he had used his training to help reconstruct hunter- related shootings and sometimes had to determine flight paths of bullets and perform other forensic work as well. “We perform necropsies on deer to determine cause of death. Sometimes we recover bullets that can be forensically matched to the firearms that discharged them. In one case that game warden Dave Taddei and I worked together on in 2015, we were able to determine that a doe that had been reported as an archery kill in Rockingham had in fact been killed with a muzzle loader.”
Watkin, who was born in England, chose to pursue a career in law enforcement relatively late in life. He completed a Ph.D. in cellular biology and was performing research at the University of Vermont before he even considered the idea. “ I graduated in 2000 from University of Bath, England. I ended up spending six years at UVM as a postdoctoral associate, which is what brought my wife and me out here (to Vermont). I got to a point where it was time to step up and start commanding my own grant money. I recognized I didn’t have what it took in such a competitive world. It can be very stressful fighting for grant money every year.” After living in Vermont for six years, Watkin and his wife had grown to love their new home. “My wife and I wanted to stay in Vermont, and I needed to find a career that would allow us to do this. She’s a physical therapist and had her Vermont license so she was all set in that aspect. I had seen a warden truck on the interstate and it piqued my interest. I applied for the position and the rest is history.”