DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State. In 2020, the 298 ECOs and Investigators across the state responded to 29,673 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,952 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

“DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers are working hard in communities across New York to protect natural resources by upholding our state’s stringent laws and regulations and protecting public safety,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Our ECOs are expertly trained to perform their duties in every setting-from cities to wilderness-and continue to adapt to meet new and emerging challenges as they build on their longstanding commitment to protect New York’s environment.”

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

Hudson River Waterfowl Patrol – Ulster County
On Oct. 17, ECOs Johnson and Walraven conducted boat patrol on the Hudson River during opening weekend of waterfowl season in the southeastern part of the state. While patrolling north toward Saugerties, the two ECOs observed a hunter operating an unregistered vessel and heading toward a public boat launch. The Officers approached the hunter at the boat launch and observed that he was in possession of two mallards. The hunter did not possess a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, did not have a plug in his shotgun, and the shotgun was loaded while the vessel was moving. Further investigation concluded that the hunter was intoxicated by alcohol while operating the vessel and while waterfowl hunting. The hunter was arrested for hunting while intoxicated and boating while intoxicated, along with several hunting and navigation law violations. The case is pending in Town of Saugerties Court.

Two ECOs with illegally hunted waterfowl and the shotgun used.
ECOs Johnson and Walraven with seized waterfowl and shotgun

Busy Day on the Water – Westchester County
On Oct. 24, ECOs Tompkins and Wamsley were conducting a boat patrol on the Byram River, which empties into the Long Island Sound. The ECOs observed three men carrying a bucket that appeared heavy. As the Officers approached the subjects, the men began acting erratically. The ECOs motored up to the dock and directed the men not to dump the bucket, but one of the individuals emptied the bucket into the river. ECO Tompkins quickly maneuvered the vessel to the dock, allowing ECO Wamsley to jump up to the dock, grab a net, and retrieve 16 undersized blackfish. The Officers issued a total of seven summonses to the men, all charged with possessing over-the-limit and undersized fish. The individual who dumped the bucket received an additional charge for failure to obey a lawful order. The ECOs continued their boat patrol throughout the day and issued six more tickets to multiple individuals for possessing undersized fish. All illegally possessed fish were confiscated and donated to a local zoo.

Two ECOs on a boat in a marina with dozens of illegally caught fish on the boat deck
ECOs Wamsley and Tompkins with seized fish

The .22 Caliber Deer Case – Ulster County
On Oct. 29, ECO Walraven received information that a bowhunter had shot a deer with a .22 caliber rifle during the special archery season in the town of Wawarsing. The information came from another bowhunter in the area at the time who had observed the incident. ECO Walraven contacted ECO Wood, who deployed his K9 CJ to assist in locating evidence. K9 CJ, trained in burnt gun powder detection, detected gun powder on a wrist strap release dropped at the scene. ECOs Wood and Walraven searched the area and located a blind and trail camera looking over a bait pile of corn and apples. The Officers also found several spent .22 shell casings in the blind. On Oct. 31, the Officers interviewed the suspect, who admitted to shooting at the deer with his rifle and hunting from the blind. ECO Walraven issued the man several tickets for possessing a firearm afield during the special archery season, hunting deer with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, hunting deer with rimfire ammunition, and attempting to unlawfully take protected wildlife. The tickets are returnable to the Town of Wawarsing Court in November.

ECOs Conduct Enforcement During Salmon Run – Niagara County
During the early morning hours of Oct. 30, ECOs Scheer, Powers, and Koepf conducted salmon fishing checks at Burt Dam, a popular fishing site along Eighteen Mile Creek in the town of Newfane. The Officers observed approximately 40 anglers during the patrol and issued four violations for fishing before legal hours and failing to immediately release hooked fish. In addition to addressing the violations found, the ECOs spoke with several anglers who expressed their gratitude to the ECOs for enforcing fishing laws and regulations at this popular fishing site.

“Smoky” Detail – Queens County
On Nov. 3, New York State DEC Division of Air Resources staff worked with Region 2 ECOs on a heavy-duty diesel vehicle checkpoint in Queens County. The group observed numerous air emission violations during the checkpoint, resulting in several inspected vehicles being put out of service to address safety violations. ECOs also issued summonses for Environmental Conservation Law and Vehicle and Traffic Law violations.

ECOs and other DEC staff take a photo in front of a vehicle during emissions monitoring
Region 2 ECOs with DEC Division of Air staff Dan Benton
and Gary McPherson at vehicle emissions detail

New York City Marathon – Richmond County
On Nov. 7, ECOs in Region 2 supported security for the New York City Marathon. Acting Lt. Auguscinski and ECO Pansini assisted U.S. Park Police and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) by conducting Preventative Radiological Nuclear Detection patrols of the starting area by Fort Wadsworth in Richmond County. Lt. Dowling and ECOs Brussell and Currey supported USCG’s Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) mission on Marine Vessel A4. Seventeen illegal drones were detected near the starting line and over the Verrazano Bridge during the event.

An ECO uses binoculars with a large bridge and water in the background
ECO Brussell on A4 C-UAS NYC Marathon detail at
the Verrazano Bridge

Author: Harlem Valley News