Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol

Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement enforces the 71 chapters of New York State’s 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 2022, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to more than 25,600 calls and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 13,800 tickets or arrests for violations ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the illegal pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

“DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators work hard each day to serve their communities, protect our precious natural resources, and safeguard public health, while ensuring those who break the state’s stringent Environmental Conservation Laws are held accountable,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement, DEC looks forward to continuing to support the work our ECOs perform in every corner of New York.”

ECOs and Explorers – Clinton County
On Aug. 8, ECOs Nicols and LaCroix teamed up with Plattsburgh Police Department Youth ‘Explorers’ for an outreach event in Clinton County. The Explorers, a teen career training program, gives young people an opportunity to work side-by-side law enforcement. Participating youth spend a few hours a week on the job with different Officers to experience the job first-hand. Utilizing the DEC Division of Law Enforcement SAFE boat, the ECOs took the Explorers out on a vessel patrol of Lake Champlain and spoke to them about the vessel’s capabilities and the types of enforcement actions typically conducted on the lake.

ECOs LaCroix (L) and Nicols (R) with Plattsburgh Police Explorers

ECOs and Youth Explorers inside of patrol vessel
ECOs and Explorers prepare to patrol Lake Champlain

Ginseng Bust – Schoharie County
On Aug. 29, ECO Burgess received a complaint from a retired ECO reporting a trespasser on his posted property in the town of Richmondville stealing ginseng, a highly sought after and protected plant in New York. The complainant witnessed a vehicle parked next to his posted signs and observed an individual enter the woods with what appeared to be a bag over his arm. The property owner also observed a bag of mushrooms in the center console of the subject’s vehicle. ECO Burgess responded to patrol the property but failed to find the subject. She returned another day, saw the same vehicle parked near the private property, and observed the subject eventually walk out of the woods. The subject admitted to knowing he was on private property but said he was simply mushroom hunting. ECO Vencak responded to the area to assist with the investigation and the Officers ticketed the subject for trespassing on posted property. Technical Sergeant Schoonover and K-9 Rachet responded to track the subject’s path through the woods. Within seconds, K-9 Ratchet located a disturbed and broken patch of ginseng plants, a discarded jacket with pockets filled with fresh ginseng roots, and a screwdriver that had been used as a digging tool. Charges are pending against the subject for petit larceny, criminal mischief, and multiple violations of ginseng regulations.

ginseng roots on display
Ginseng root recovered during trespass investigation in Schoharie County

Wildlife Federation Hosts Youth Field Day – Wyoming County
On Sept. 9, ECO Scheer attended the Wyoming County Wildlife Federation Youth Field Day at the Attica Rod and Gun Club in Varysburg. The event is the Federation’s signature youth outreach event of the year and allows young hunters to gain hands-on experience. Activities included rifle shooting (with laser sights for children under 12), archery, tree stand safety, wilderness survival, fishing, waterfowl and turkey hunting, and trapping. Officer Scheer discussed the importance of wildlife conservation and responsible hunting practices with participants and explained the job of an ECO.

Youth participants standing on grass receiving a lesson from educator
Youth participants receive a lesson in tree stand safety at Wyoming County Wildlife Federation Youth Field Day

Nothing But Noodles – Ulster County
On Sept. 10, Lieutenant Glorioso notified ECO Johnson of a potential bear baiting case in the town of Saugerties where a complainant reported a hunter was using noodles as an attractant. Officers Johnson and Smith responded and walked the edge of a cornfield where the baiting had reportedly occurred until they found the hunter in question. Approximately 75 yards in front of the hunter, on the farm road, ECOs discovered a pile of noodles. When asked where the noodles came from, the subject claimed he brought them to eat for lunch. ECO Johnson issued two tickets to the hunter for hunting bear with the aid of pre-established bait and failing to wear a back-tag.

corn on the cob and noodles scattered in the grass
Hunter in Ulster County uses noodles as bear bait

Officer of the Year – Onondaga County
On Sept. 13, ECO Thomas received the 2022 Officer of the Year Award from the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association (NECLECA). The awards committee selected Officer Thomas for his continued work in protecting the environment and holding polluters accountable in Onondaga County. Colleagues say ECO Thomas has served in DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement with grace and professionalism. DEC congratulates Officer Thomas on receiving this award.

Three ECOs standing next to American Flag
From left to right: Captain Stevens, ECO Thomas (Award Recipient), and Lieutenant Colesante

That’s a Little Crappie – Putnam County
On the evening of Sept. 14, while on patrol, Officer Tompkins received a call from off-duty ECO Franz reporting an alleged angler in a boat taking undersized fish on Barger Pond in the town of Putnam Valley. ECO Tompkins responded to the area and waited for the vessel to dock before he moved in and approached the fisherman. The subject possessed 78 black crappie, more than three times the daily limit of 25. Officer Tompkins measured the fish and found all of them were also under the 10-inch minimum size limit. He ticketed the angler for possession of over the daily limit and undersized fish. Both tickets were returnable to the Town of Putnam Valley Court for a date in early October.

undersized black crappies on display in front of ECO police vehicle
Seventy-eight undersized black crappies seized by ECO Tompkins in Putnam County

Law Enforcement Torch Run – Clinton County
On Sept. 15, Officers in Clinton County showed their support for the Special Olympics Organization and its athletes in the city of Plattsburgh. Major Richards, Captains Darrah and Bramlage, Lieutenant Younglove, ECOs Okonuk, Krug, Buffa, Fadden, Lagree, Kelley, Brassard, LaCroix, and K-9 Web participated in the North Country Law Enforcement Torch Run, an annual fundraiser for the North Country Special Olympics. The event also honors fallen Law Enforcement Officers from all agencies. This year, attendees honored the late ECO Cabana, State Police Captain Garrow, and Special Olympics Coach Marc Brannigan.

North Country Torch Run participants standing on steps of public building
North Country Torch Run participants

Emergency Services Appreciation Dinner – Sullivan County
On Sept. 20, DEC Division of Law Enforcement Director Przyklek, Colonel Boylan, Major Gillis, Captain Townley, and Lieutenant Bello joined first responders from across Sullivan County for the annual Uniformed Emergency Services Appreciation Dinner sponsored by Catskills Hatzalah at their Fallsburg facility. Law Enforcement, Fire Services, and EMTs gathered to be recognized for their service and discuss ways to make that service even better. Catskills Hatzalah is a renowned Volunteer Ambulance Service that utilizes state-of-the-art dispatching technology and a wide network of trained members available to respond to medical emergencies throughout the Catskills Region.

ECOs posing for photo at the Catskills Hatzalah
Left to Right – Colonel Boylan, Director Przyklek, Rabbi Gold, Major Gillis, Captain Townley, and Lieutenant Bello attend networking event in Sullivan County

To contact an ECO to report an environmental crime or to report an incident, call 1-844-DEC-ECOS for 24-hour dispatch or email (for non-urgent violations).


Author: Harlem Valley News