Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Thursday, June 8, 2023

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 black market 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."

Boaters Rescued - Fulton County
On May 11, ECO Pasciak responded to the town of Northampton near Sinclair Point to assist the Northville and Edinburg fire departments with a broken-down vessel on Great Sacandaga Lake. After consulting with the fire departments, Officer Pasciak launched his patrol vessel with firefighters on board. They located the disabled vessel with three individuals on board and towed the boat partially back to shore before turning it over to a larger fire department vessel for the rest of the journey. Once back on land, Officer Pasciak educated the three mariners on boater safety, because they did not have safety equipment or emergency flares on board.

Multi-Agency Truck Inspections - Saratoga County
In mid-May, ECOs teamed up with State Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspectors and an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Fuel Compliance Officer in Saratoga County to inspect trucks for emissions and safety violations. During the detail, ECOs focused on air quality and solid waste while DOT Inspectors looked for safety violations. The IRS Officer checked diesel fuel tanks to ensure truckers used proper fuel. Fortunately, of the more than 20 trucks inspected, only a few of them had minor DOT violations.

Timber Theft - Allegany County
On May 12, Investigator Dougherty arrested an Allegany County man on charges of grand larceny, criminal mischief, unlawful removal of trees, and criminal trespass in connection with a timber theft in the town of Wirt. The arrest followed an investigation by Investigator Dougherty and the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI) in DEC Region 9. The investigation determined the defendant had hired two loggers under false pretenses, resulting in the cutting and removal of more than 40 trees valued at approximately $17,000 from the victim's property. The defendant will answer the charges in the Town of Wirt Court.

ECOs Honored - Madison County
On May 21, two ECOs were honored at the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame ceremony in the village of Canastota. Madison County. ECO Grisolini became the latest inductee into the Hall of Fame for his continued work providing opportunities for young hunters. For years, the ECO played a key role in the annual spring Youth and Women's Turkey Hunt and the fall Youth and Women's Waterfowl Hunt, both sponsored by the County Federation of Sportsmen/Women of Oneida and Madison counties. He was also integral to the creation of the annual Oneida/Madison County youth turkey and waterfowl hunts hosted by the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls, putting smiles on the faces of young hunters for more than a decade. Officer Grisolini regularly assists participating youth hunters during these events.

Oneida County ECO Lakeman was recognized with the Dave Pierce Memorial Award for his work on the annual Youth Goose Hunt in Oneida County. Thirteen years ago, ECO Lakeman approached the Federated Sportsmen Clubs of Oneida County, Inc., about organizing a youth goose hunt in the county. Since then, he has worked with more than 200 students, teaching them hunting safety, firearms patterning, and general goose hunting instruction. DEC congratulates both Officers on their awards.

Two ECOs hold their awards
ECOs Lakeman (left) and Grisolini (right) accept their awards at New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame ceremony in Madison County

Zero 'Likes' - Nassau County
Late on May 21, a Lynbrook resident located an abandoned juvenile opossum (joey) in their backyard and requested assistance from a wildlife rehabilitator via social media. A nearby licensed DEC rehabilitator responded to the request but was too late. An unlicensed citizen had arrived minutes earlier and taken the joey. The rehabber requested ECO assistance when the subject who took the animal ignored requests to return it and subsequently "blocked" the rehabber on the social media platform. With only a name and chatlogs provided by the complainant, ECO Pabes tracked down the subject at their residence in Lynbrook. During an interview, the subject admitted to taking the opossum without the required license. They received a ticket for illegal possession of protected wildlife. ECO Pabes transported the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator where it is expected to make a full recovery.

baby possum
Juvenile opossum found in Nassau County on its way to rehabilitation

Duck Rescue - Suffolk County
On May 22, ECOs Perkins and Cacciola responded to the South Shore Children's Center in Islip Terrace after receiving a report of a mother mallard and seven ducklings stuck inside the building's central courtyard. The Officers first tried to capture the mother. She quickly flew out of the courtyard leaving the ducklings behind. The ECOs swooped in and gathered all seven baby birds and waited for the mother to return. Once she did, the Officers captured the mother and released her and the ducklings to a nearby lake.

ECO releases ducklings from orange bucket
ECO Cacciola releases mallard hen and ducklings found trapped in Suffolk County

Runaway Vessel - Erie County
On May 22, while patrolling secluded areas in Erie and Niagara counties on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), ECOs Gill and Scheer were flagged down by a concerned citizen in the town of Tonawanda reporting a vessel in distress on the Niagara River. The citizen said his friend just launched his vessel, but lost engine power and was currently adrift down the river. ECO Gill contacted the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Station in Buffalo to report the incident and last known location of the runaway boat. The two Officers drove to a nearby marina that provided a better vantage point to determine the vessel's location. Once they spotted it, ECO Scheer contacted the boat operator, advised him to put on a life jacket, and talked him through setting his anchor properly to prevent the boat from drifting down the river any further. While Officer Scheer guided the boat operator, ECO Gill relayed pertinent information to USCG, which had a patrol vessel in the area that responded and towed the disabled vessel safely back to shore. The ECOs then resumed their patrol.

ECO looks out onto the water with binoculars
ECO Gill watches distressed vessel while awaiting Coast Guard arrival

Cattaraugus Creek Cast Netters - Cattaraugus County
On May 23, ECO Damrath received a call from a local business owner in the town of Perrysburg reporting four men using cast nets to take fish from Cattaraugus Creek, also known as "The Catt," one of the most popular and productive freshwater fishing destinations in New York State. Officer Damrath, about an hour away from the location, contacted ECO Mead for assistance. Officer Mead responded within minutes, located the suspect vehicle, and began searching for the anglers. About an hour later, ECO Damrath joined the search. He observed four men emerging from the Cattaraugus gorge, each struggling to carry large, waterproof, survival-style backpacks and cast nets. Once the subjects loaded the backpacks and nets into their vehicle, Officer Damrath introduced himself to the four fishermen. He and ECO Mead counted a total of 71 unlawfully taken fish, including 21 trophy-sized smallmouth bass, a brown trout, suckers, and carp. Smallmouth bass are currently spawning in water bodies around the state. ECOs Mead and Damrath issued 13 tickets for charges including taking fish by means other than angling, taking fish out of season, and unlawfully possessing protected fish.

ECO kneels on grass next to confiscated fish
ECO Mead with the recovered fish illegally taken from Cattaraugus Creek

Porgy Patrols, Filet Fibs, and Poachers After Dark - Suffolk County
A series of fishing compliance checks in Suffolk County resulted in anglers ticketed for taking far more porgy than legally allowed, striped bass too small to keep, and a filet fib that resulted in charges.

  • On May 24, while on patrol in the village of Greenport, ECO Zullo observed a vessel in Greenport Harbor with two individuals on board and seagulls diving in the water behind it. The seagull activity signaled to Officer Zullo that the anglers were fileting fish. When he approached and boarded the vessel, the ECO observed a plastic bag full of fish filets. Despite the captain's claims the fish were porgy, Officer Zullo determined they were weakfish. He seized the filets and ticketed both anglers with possession of over-the-limit of weakfish, possessing undersized weakfish, and failure to carry a marine registry, returnable to Southold Town Court.
  • On May 26, while on overnight patrol, ECO Vandenbos observed multiple anglers fishing from the Ponquogue Bridge in the hamlet of Hampton Bays. Before long, he spotted two anglers go down to the water with a blue bag and return without it. The Officer approached the anglers and observed the bag hidden behind a guard rail. Inside, ECO Vandenbos discovered a striped bass measuring less than 28 inches and issued a ticket for possession of undersized striped bass. He then ticketed another angler for possessing five striped bass, all outside the legal slot limit. All tickets issued were returnable to Southampton Town Justice Court.
  • On May 29, while on patrol in the town of Southold, ECO Zullo observed a vessel with three anglers on board returning to dock at a boat launch. Officer Zullo approached the boat and immediately observed a bucket full of porgy. The captain of the vessel advised coolers on board also contained fish. ECO Zullo counted 143 porgy, well over the New York State limit of 30 per person, per day. He seized 53 fish as evidence and issued tickets to the subjects for possession of over the limit porgy, as well as one summons for failure to carry a marine registry, returnable to Southold Town Court.

ECO kneels with fish filets on cardboard on the grass
ECO Zullo with seized weakfish filets in Suffolk County following fishing compliance check

ECO truck in front of fish on the sandy pavement
More than 50 porgy seized during fishing compliance checks in Suffolk County

Scouts Learn to Fish - Herkimer County
On May 25, ECO Jakaub shared the joys of fishing with Daisy Scout Troop 20039 from the village of Poland. In addition to answering questions from the Girl Scouts, Officer Jakaub spoke to the troop about the hard work and dedication required to be an Environmental Conservation Police Officer, tested the scouts' knowledge of animal pelts, and taught them how to cast fishing poles donated by the New York Conservation Officers Association. The scouts were sent home with the fishing poles, as well as New York State fishing guides and tape measures to get them started on what hopefully becomes a new activity.

ECO, kids, and parents in group photo with fishing poles
ECO Jakaub with Daisy Scout Troop 20039 and their new fishing poles

ECO at picnic table with kids showing them animal pelts
ECO Jakaub showing scouts pelts from common furbearers in Herkimer County

kids with fishing poles
Daisy Scout Troop participates in casting contest in Herkimer County

Law Enforcement Torch Run - Suffolk County
On May 25, Lieutenant Amato and ECOs DeRose, Carpenter, Dickson, Della Rocco, and Cacciola participated in the Nassau/Suffolk Torch Run for Special Olympics. Similar runs are held throughout the country, serving as the largest public awareness vehicle and grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics. The Officers ran six-plus miles with agencies from Suffolk County then merged with agencies from Nassau County to finish the run at Farmingdale State College.

ECO running with flag
ECO Dickson carrying the torch run flag in Suffolk County

ECOs hold blue and yellow flag and torch during event
Left to Right: ECO Carpenter, ECO DeRose, Special Olympics Athlete, ECO Della Rocco, Lt. Amato, ECO Dickson, and ECO Cacciola at Torch Run in Suffolk County

Tree Stand Safety Awareness - Onondaga County
On Memorial Day in the village of Camillus, ECO Sincebaugh assisted with an event created to bring awareness to tree stand safety. During the 2022 Southern Zone deer season, 26-year-old Michael Rinaldo tragically died after falling from a hunting tree stand. Michael's wife Larissa asked DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) to assist in spreading the important message of tree stand safety, specifically the use of safety harnesses while hunting. ECO Sincebaugh and more than 170 participants, including Michael's family and friends, wore bright hunter orange and paraded through Camillus spreading awareness.

People in orange shirts hold orange banner during parade
March in Onondaga County brings awareness to tree stand safety following tragic death of hunter

ECO vehicle leads parade of people in orange shirts
ECO Sincebaugh takes part in parade for tree stand safety in Onondaga County

Memorial Day Weekend Air Show at Jones Beach - Nassau County
From May 26 to 28, ECOs assisted with security for the 19th annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach. The Officers patrolled Jones Beach on ATVs and used patrol vessels to keep watch at Hempstead Bay for the three-day air show, which drew more than 400,000 people. ECOs responded to a variety of incidents including reports of lost children, unauthorized drone flights, and requests to clear emergency response lanes and remove trespassers from piping plover nesting areas. On water, Officers patrolled along the oceanfront to keep boaters out of the safety area where performers conducted aircraft maneuvers. The air show featured civilian flight teams, a U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue display, and performances by the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the Marine Corps F-35B, the Navy Legacy Growler Team, and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

ECO looking at plane in the sky
ECO Perkins watching F-18 Growler fly over Jones Beach

ECOs pointing at parachuter in the distance
ECOs Michalet and DeRose prepare to escort the Army Golden Knight at the Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach

ECOs stand in front of ECO vehicle on the beach
Left to right: ECOs Pabes, DeRose with K9 Cramer, and Small, Lt. Amato, ECO Smith, and ECO Dickson

ECO and two kids on an ATV on the beach
Lt. Unger with potential future ECOs at the Jones Beach Air Show in Nassau County

Washington D.C. Police Memorial
Earlier this month, DEC Division of Law Enforcement Director Przyklek, Captains Caifa, Murphy, Stevens, Lt. Bartoszewski, and ECOs LaPoint and Scheer participated in "Police Week" in Washington, D.C. Three retired DLE members - Lieutenant Paul Adam, Investigator Thomas Graham, and ECO Lawrence Cabana - were added to the National Police Memorial Wall. All three members paid the ultimate sacrifice when they succumbed to 9/11-related illnesses following their response to the terrorist incident in New York City.

The DLE members acted as escorts for the families of the fallen Officers and accompanied them throughout the weekend to various ceremonies, including a candlelight vigil, Arlington National Cemetery wreath laying, and the Memorial. After the weekend's events, DLE members were invited to the U.S. Secret Service headquarters where Director Przyklek was presented with a plaque thanking the Division for its continuous assistance with Secret Service efforts in the New York City area.

Two people putting a floral wreath at monument
ECO LaPoint with Ashley Cabana laying a wreath for her father, fallen ECO Lawrence Cabana, at Arlington National Cemetery

ECOs and civilian stand in front of US Capitol
Left to Right: Ashley Cabana, daughter of fallen ECO Lawrence Cabana, ECO LaPoint, Director Przyklek, and Captains Stevens and Murphy attend 'Police Week' in Washington, D.C.

ECO walks with family
ECO Scheer escorting the family of Lt. Paul Adam during 'Police Week' in Washington, D.C.

two people holding plaque in front of american flag
Director Przyklek presented with a plaque by Secret Service Deputy Director of Counter Surveillance (the flag behind them survived the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing)

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).

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