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For Release: Wednesday, May 8, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late April

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

In 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, 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 DEC 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:

Spring Pesticides Enforcement - Suffolk County
On April 24, ECO Jeremy Eastwood and DEC pesticide inspector Joe Cutrone conducted a patrol for pesticide compliance among landscapers in Riverhead and Southampton. Seven tickets and one written warning were issued for various violations that day, including operating an unregistered pesticide business, applying pesticide without certification, storing pesticides in an unlabeled container, failure to place warning markers, and failure to display decals properly on equipment. One company alone was issued five tickets for various violations. In another enforcement case on April 27, ECO Eastwood and ECO Brian Farrish checked a company applying pesticides at Jiffy Lube in Riverhead and found that there was no certified applicator or registration information at the site. The company was charged with operating an unregistered pesticide business, applying pesticides without certification, commercial application of pesticides without a valid applicator card, failure to place warning markers, failure to display decals on two sides of equipment, and improperly labelled service container. Each charge faces a possible fine of up to $2,500 in the Riverhead Town Court.

A Day at the Circus - Broome County
On April 25, Lt. Kenric Warner and ECOs Tony Rigoli and Andy McCormick conducted a compliance inspection of the Garden Bros. Circus before the scheduled afternoon performance at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. The inspection focused on the permits required to exhibit elephants in New York State. In 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that goes into effect on Oct. 19, 2019, prohibiting DEC from issuing any license or permit authorizing the use of elephants in entertainment acts. Until that time, a permit issued by the DEC is required to exhibit elephants. The officers found that the two elephants traveling with the circus are covered by valid DEC permits. ECOs also found no violations of laws involving other animals travelling with the circus.

Lost and Found, All in a Day's Work - Suffolk County
On April 25, while on patrol in Montauk, ECO Sean Rockefeller came across a lost dog wandering down the road. The friendly dog, named Jerri, wore a collar with tags on it. ECO Rockefeller was able to contact Jerri's owner and returned the missing dog to his grateful family.

Small white dog sittingin the front passenger seat of an ECO vehicle
Jerri the lost dog getting comfortable in ECO Rockefeller's patrol vehicle

Taking Swans and Possessing Drugs - Suffolk County
On April 25, ECOs Kyle Bevis and Emma Carpenter observed three males throwing rocks at gulls and swans in the town of Brookhaven. While interviewing the three individuals, ECOs Bevis and Carpenter found bags of marijuana, cartridges of THC oil, edible marijuana treats, and containers of THC wax. ECO Landon Simmons then responded to assist. The one suspect not in possession of drugs was issued a ticket for unlawful taking of a protected bird and released. The two additional suspects were arrested. One was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree, criminal possession of marijuana, and unlawful taking of a protected bird. The other was charged with one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree, unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful taking of a protected bird.

Out of the Field and into the Frying Pan - Essex County
On the evening of April 25, ECO Maxwell Nicols received a tip about a Facebook post showing multiple turkeys killed prior to the season opener with a subject claiming to have harvested the birds during the youth weekend. ECO Nicols located the photographer at his home, and after a conversation, the man admitted to harvesting three of the birds. When asked where the meat from the birds was, the man hung his head and looked into his kitchen, where a family member was cooking dinner. Upon further investigation, the officer determined that the subject had prior convictions barring him from possessing any firearms. The defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, taking turkeys during the closed season, and hunting turkey without turkey hunting privileges. All charges are returnable to Essex Town Court. The shotgun and remaining turkey meat were seized as evidence, and dinner was allowed to proceed as planned. The investigation continues into who took the fourth turkey.

Four deceased turkeys lying on the ground
Facebook post showing the turkeys shot in a single day

Off-Duty Lieutenant Alerts On-Duty ECOs on Easter - Suffolk County
On April 26, ECOs Evan Laczi and Landon Simmons caught two men in possession of five undersized striped bass on a beach in the town of Brookhaven after receiving a tip from off-duty officer Lt. Matt Blaising, who was enjoying a day at the beach with his family on Easter Sunday. Lt. Blaising provided a great description, location, and even a picture of one of the men. The fishermen were each charged with taking undersized striped bass and possession over the limit of striped bass, with the tickets returnable to the Suffolk First District Court.

Two ECOs standing in front of an ECO vehicle while holding five fish by the mouths
ECOs Evan Laczi and Landon Simmons with undersized striped bass

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