Department of Environmental Conservation

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Portrait of an ECO

Mike Arp, an Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) for 20 years, is a member of the thin green line that protects both people and the environment.

ECO Mike Arp and his dog

Why choose an ECO career?

"I grew up in the Catskills, hunting and fishing my whole life," Arp said. " I come from a long line of law enforcement people in my family. So, I knew I wanted to get into law enforcement. What better way to combine law enforcement with hunting, fishing and being outdoors?" he asked.

An ECO's routine is hardly routine.

"You have a lot of options during the course of a day," he said. "Getting up in the morning, I never know what I'm going to encounter. It's something different every day."

ECOs patrol assigned sectors enforcing the laws for hunting, fishing, trapping, protecting wetlands, disposing of solid and hazardous waste, using pesticides, protecting endangered species, navigating waterways and using ATVs to name a few. The variety of situations and options for responding to them induce a sense of adventure that Arp finds appealing.

Officer Arp worked with a police dog in the K-9 unit for nearly a decade. "When I originally got the dog, we were the only K-9 unit in Greene County. I was getting a lot of calls whether for tracking bad guys or finding lost people. Dogs are also used quite a bit during big game seasons to detect illegally taken deer and bear meat and spent shell casings."

You have to understand what you're getting into.

"It's police work," Arp said. "That's something people have to realize. You go out thinking you're going to check fishing licenses and end up assisting another agency with someone who took off into woods after burglarizing a house. You have POLICE written on your vehicle. So when you come upon flagrant violations of the law, whether related to environmental conservation or not, people expect you to do something."

The rewards are worth it.

"The best part of the job is helping people, even if it's just answering a simple question," he said. "You walk away with a handshake from someone you've helped every day. That's a good feeling."

Environmental Conservation Police Officers

To reach an ECO or to report an environmental crime call our 24 hour dispatch at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267)

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