Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, September 12, 2018

DEC Announces Law Enforcement Awards for Distinguished Service

ECOs and Law Enforcement Professionals Recognized for Outstanding Service Protecting Environment, Public Health and Safety

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the awards for distinguished actions of dozens of its service members and civilian staff and other law enforcement officials from across the state in a ceremony held at the Empire State Plaza today. DEC's Division of Law Enforcement Police Awards are presented every three years and recognize the courageous acts and distinguished service of Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and civilian employees, along with District Attorneys and other law enforcement officials that helped protect the environment and enforce the Environmental Conservation Law.

"DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers are the state's first line of defense in safeguarding our environment and natural resources and protecting the public. I am honored to recognize and celebrate the incredible efforts of our officers and civilian staff today," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Our ECOs work tirelessly, often in remote locations, to uphold the state's conservation laws and protect public health and safety. From uncovering illegal dumping, to protecting wildlife, enforcing air quality regulations, and responding to natural disasters, I applaud their selfless service to the State of New York."

Awards for actions taken in 2016 - 2018 were presented to 39 ECOs and other law enforcement and civilian professionals for a range of activities, including:

  • Saving the life of a gravely wounded ECO;
  • Conducting one of the largest ivory investigations and seizures in State history;
  • Saving the life of a victim stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle and then apprehending the combative attacker in several feet of water;
  • Coordinating a novel and innovative enforcement initiative to combat flooding and track fires in the NYC subway system;
  • Deploying ECO Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) pilots to Puerto Rico to assist in recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria;
  • Swimming across a raging river to rescue a father and daughter clinging to a tree limb;
  • Busting one of the largest deer poaching cases in New York history; and
  • Forming the Division's Environmental Forensic Crime Scene Unit (EFU).

In addition to the awards, DEC recognized the first female member of the DLE K-9 unit, as well as two other handlers at the event.

The mission of the ECOs, who were first created in 1880, is "to protect and enhance the environment and natural resources of the State of New York while also protecting the health and safety of its people through the enforcement of Environmental Conservation and related laws and public education."

In 2017, the 301 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets enforcing the Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In addition, these officers responded to multiple natural disasters, emergencies, and other public safety threats, employing their unique maritime, woodland and off-road capabilities to protect the public.

Please see the DEC's ECO 2018 Award Descriptions (PDF 95 KB) to view a detailed list of award winners and citations.

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