DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late May

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2017, the 301 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

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).

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Pesticide Violations Uncovered - Queens County

On May 23, ECOs in Region 2 conducted a city-wide pesticide detail, inspecting lawn maintenance and pest control companies for proper permits and certifications. ECO Ryan Kelley and DEC pesticides programs staff inspections revealed a company that is not a registered pesticide applicator was applying a restricted-use pesticide called MERIT 0.5G. Restricted-use pesticides are only allowed for applicators with advanced certification due to associated dangers. The owner of the company was issued citations for failing to register a pesticide business, use of a restricted-use pesticide, and service containers not properly labeled. All of the charges are pending in Queens County Court.

Bags of restricted-use pesticides and backpack sprayer
Bags of restricted-use pesticides and backpack sprayer

Right Place, Right Time - Westchester County

On May 23, ECOs Aaron Bonilla and Kevin Wamsley discovered several violations while conducting a drycleaning compliance check in Yonkers, including failure to maintain a spill kit, incomplete paperwork, and failure to take the drycleaning machine operators refresher course. While completing summonses to be issued to the business in question, a truck pulled up to make a delivery of the solvent Perchloroethylene (perc). The permit numbers issued to the vehicle to allow transportation of this hazardous material did not match the permit issued. An inspection of the truck found material in the back of the vehicle was spilling out of the containers and onto to the floor of the truck. The owner of the truck admitted to having the old permit number displayed on the truck for several years. The ECOs issued additional summonses to the transporter for failure to contain waste during transport and failure to properly display permit numbers. All summonses are returnable to the City of Yonkers Court.

ECO Wamsley inspecting the delivery truck
ECO Wamsley inspecting the delivery truck

Capsized Kayaker Rescue - Franklin County

On May 25 at approximately 5:15 p.m., ECOs Kevin Riggs and Jim Cranker responded from a boat patrol on Lower Saranac Lake to Middle Saranac Lake for a report of a capsized kayaker who could not be located by his companions. The ECOs coordinated with DEC Forest Rangers, a Saranac Islands Public Campground boat, and a Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department boat to search the area of the subject's last known location. A strong storm accompanied by high winds swept the area resulting in large waves on the lake, making for difficult search conditions. Roughly 45 minutes after the initial call, ECOs Riggs and Cranker found the missing kayaker on the back side of a nearby island, where campers had assisted the subject. The kayaker was wearing a personal flotation device when he capsized and had clung to the kayak as the wind and waves pushed him to the island. The man was uninjured and transported back to his campsite, where he was reunited with his companions on Weller Pond.

Beacon High School Career Fair - Dutchess County

On May 25, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Deo Read attended a career fair hosted by Beacon High School, where ECO Tompkins graduated in 2006. Recruitment is a continuous aspect of an ECOs' job duties, and the officers answered questions from interested students, teachers, and civilians about the job responsibilities of an ECO. The students and teachers also asked questions about fishing, hunting, and trapping regulations. The ECOs also quizzed the students and teachers about the identification of pelts from various furbearers displayed on the table.

ECOs Tompkins and Read at Beacon High School Career Fair
ECOs Tompkins and Read at Beacon High School
Career Fair

Water Quality Violations - Richmond County

On May 25, ECO Dustin Osborne received a complaint that a construction company was pumping muddy water into a freshwater stream on Staten Island. ECO Osborne and ECO Taylor Della Rocco arrived on site to find that a plumbing company had excavated a 20-foot-deep hole in the roadway to tie into the main sewer line. During the excavation, the company hit ground water, which they were pumping out of the excavation site and into a storm drain, located directly above a freshwater stream. ECO Osborne walked downstream approximately 1,000 feet and observed turbidity caused by the muddy water being pumped into the stream. The plumbing company did not have a permit for discharging the muddy water from this excavation, and DEC's Division of Water was contacted to assist in delineating the numerous violations committed by the plumbing company. Ultimately, the plumbing company was charged with pollution of water in contravention of standards, discharging without a SPDES permit, pollution of waters of the marine district, pollution of waters of fisheries or shellfisheries, disposing of substance injurious to fish and wildlife into a stream, and depositing a noisome and unwholesome substance on a public highway. All charges are returnable to Richmond County Criminal court.

Injured Bicyclist - Jefferson County

On May 29, ECO Ian Helmer responded to the Tug Hill State Forest for a call of an injured bicyclist unable to walk out. Helmer, along with local volunteer firefighters from departments in Adams, Adams Center, Lorraine and Rodman, carried out the injured cyclist to waiting EMS personnel. The subject was then transported to the local hospital for treatment.

Injured bicyclist being carried out
Injured bicyclist being carried out

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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