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For Release: Wednesday, February 28, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-February

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:

Muddy Water from a Construction Site - Westchester County

On Feb. 12, ECO Dustin Dainack investigated a tip about muddy water flowing from a large construction site and entering the nearby Blind Brook, a tributary to the Long Island Sound. ECO Dainack hiked along the brook to the back of the 30-acre construction site and observed two areas where turbid water was freely flowing from the site into the brook. Although silt fencing was in place, it was improperly installed. ECO Dainack spoke with the site's construction manager and issued a summons to the general contracting company in charge of the site for the pollution of waters in contravention of standards for causing the discharge into the brook. The construction manager advised that he would begin working with the site's engineers and contractors to quickly solve the turbidity problem.

Muddy water entering Blind Brook
Muddy water entering Blind Brook

Dry Cleaner Inspection - Westchester County

ECOs Craig Tompkins and Charles Eyler were on routine patrol in the village of Port Chester on Feb. 13, when they inspected a local dry-cleaning business. The ECOs asked the manager if they used "Perc" (perchloroethylene). The manager said they did and pointed the officers to "Perc room." ECOs Tompkins and Eyler found that the vapor room door was open and no employees were inside. Further inspection found that the waste container was open and unlabeled, allowing vapors to escape and enter the business. The business was issued three tickets for failing to keep the vapor barrier door closed, failing to label the waste Perc container, and failing to keep the waste container tightly sealed, all returnable to the Village of Port Chester Court for a date in early April.

Vapor barrier door left open
Vapor barrier door left open

Short-Fish Find Leads to 350 Pounds of Illegal Shellfish - Kings County

On the evening of Feb. 13, ECOs JT Rich and Evan McFee were on patrol in a busy seafood market in Brooklyn when they entered a store and noticed a pile of small black sea bass mixed in with larger fish. After measuring a few fish, the ECOs found numerous fish under the 11-inch legal commercial size limit. While ECO Rich recorded the fish sizes and sorted through the pile of fish, ECO McFee questioned the store's manager as to where the fish had been purchased. The manager produced a receipt for the fish showing they were purchased that morning from a different wholesaler. The receipt indicated that the store had purchased 200 black sea bass, but only 30 to 40 were on display for sale. The manager then brought the ECOs to the basement cooler, where the officers spotted other containers of crabs, lobsters, and clams. A large quantity of shellfish was stored in yellow bags without tags identifying source and harvest information. When asked about the tags, the manager could not produce records for the shellfish. The ECOs forwarded photos to a Marine Unit Officer and DEC marine fisheries staff, who stated that the shellfish did not match any species harvested in the United States and that they were most likely illegally brought in from overseas. The ECOs issued summons to the business returnable to Kings County Court for both the 14 undersized black sea bass and seven, 50-pound bags of untagged shellfish.

Seized Clams Seized Sea Bass
Seized Clams and Black Sea Bass

N "ICE" Bass - Oneida County

ECO Steve Lakeman was patrolling in the town of Marcy on Feb. 17, when he observed a group of individuals ice fishing on the Barge Canal adjacent to State Rt. 49. ECO Lakeman approached and spotted numerous perch and crappie fish on the ice near the three subjects, as well as one bass. The crappie were of legal size, but the bass was out of season. One of the subjects admitted to catching the bass and said he planned to put the fish back but had forgotten to do so. ECO Lakeman issued the fisherman a ticket for taking bass out of season, returnable to the Town of Marcy Court.

Illegal bass caught through the ice on the Barge Canal
Illegal bass caught through the ice on the Barge Canal

Response to Active Shooter Training - Onondaga County

On Feb. 17, a dozen Region 7 ECOs participated in the Response to Active Shooter training presented by the DEC Division of Law Enforcement's Special Operations Group (SOG). The training was held in the DEC Region 7 offices in Syracuse, and was designed to enhance the abilities of ECOs to respond to an active shooter situation, both in their offices and in public. Training topics included tactical response to an active shooter situation, the differences between an active shooter and a barricaded subject, techniques for clearing hallways, stairwells and rooms, and tactical movements with one, two, and three officer formations. SOG members provided classroom training, followed by drills designed to hone the skills required for clearing complex layouts. The day culminated in roleplaying scenarios, complete with hostile subjects.

Good Investigative Work Leads to Solid Waste Charge - Tioga County

On Jan. 13, ECO Brent Wilson received a report of a large amount of garbage dumped along Fisher Settlement Road in the town of Spencer. ECO Wilson located a NYSEG bill in the trash with an address for a residence in Spencer. Using this evidence, the officer determined the resident associated with the NYSEG bill was recently deceased and the house had been taken over by the bank holding the mortgage. Bank officials informed ECO Wilson that they had hired a management company to oversee the property. With this information, ECO Wilson contacted the management company and was told that they had hired a contractor from the Rochester area to clean out the property. From there, the job had been sub-contracted to another Rochester-based individual. After working his way through this chain of contractors and sub-contractors, ECO Wilson contacted the final sub-contractor and obtained a confession. The officer met the individual at the scene on Feb. 17, ordered him to clean up and properly dispose of the waste, and issued the subject a ticket for the unlawful disposal of solid waste.

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