Northern District highlights
‘I told them’
On April 29, ECO Kevin Budniewski was checking the fishing activity along Cattaraugus Creek, a tributary to Lake Erie in the town of Hanover. Budniewski observed three fishermen and went over to see how the fishing was. As soon as one of the fishermen spotted the ECO approaching them, he started laughing and taunting the other two fishermen. He blurted out very loudly that the ECO should check the other fishermen’s fish. He said that they each kept a short brown trout. The boisterous fisherman said that he told the other two that the two trout were undersized but they kept them anyway. Budniewski checked the fish and they were indeed under the legal limit by 3 inches. Budniewski issued out one citation to each of the pair for their short trout. Both tickets were returnable to the town of Hanover court.
Illegal turkey case
On April 19, ECO Ken Basile received an anonymous complaint from an individual who stated that he had information about an avid outlaw who takes deer and turkey over the limit and out of season. He stated that the man is from Spencerport and has a seasonal camp in the town of Allen. The complainant stated that on this morning, he believes the suspect may have taken a turkey. Basile responded to the location in the town of Allen. When Basile arrived at the seasonal residence of the alleged illegal hunter, he found that no one was there and a pickup truck was parked in the driveway. Basile figured the hunter had not yet made it back to the camp, so he decided to hide in an area where he could see the hunter when he returned. After about 45 minutes, the hunter emerged from the brush; unfortunately, he saw Basile before Basile saw him. Basile interviewed the man, who at that time was not carrying a gun or a dead turkey. The man, who was wearing full camouflage complete with a turkey vest, stated that he was merely out locating turkeys for the upcoming youth season. Since it was after 11 a.m., and well after turkeys gobble from the roost, Basile was thinking something was not right and asked the man what he had in the pockets of his vest. The man eventually showed him two empty shotgun shell casings. Both were 12 gauge turkey loads. The man claimed he fired the rounds the previous day to sight in his gun. Since the original complaint stated that two shots were fired, Basile really became suspicious of the man’s story. Basile then asked the man if it was all right to search his property for a firearm and the man agreed to allow him to do so. Basile went to his patrol vehicle to make some calls. During that time, Basile watched the man and could tell he was nervous. After a short period of time, Basile informed the man that K9 Dog Handler ECO James Hunt and K-9 Matz were coming to the scene to do a search. Basile advised the man that if there was a firearm or turkey on his property, the dog would surely find it and that it would be best to come clean now instead of waiting for the dog to find it. That’s when the man finally admitted that he killed a gobbler. The man took Basile to where he hid the turkey and his shotgun, which was about 30 yards from where Basile waited for the man to return to the camp. Basile issued the man summonses for hunting turkey during the closed season and taking small game during the closed season. The man told Basile that he was aware of how good the Region 9 K-9 was because he read articles about the cases made by Matz in the New York Outdoor News.
Mental health arrest
On April 5 while patrolling in the village of Mt. Morris, ECO Brian Wade was made aware of a subject traveling northbound on Route 408 toward Mt. Morris who was threatening to kill himself. After a coordinated search with Livingston County Sheriff’s Department and Mt. Morris Police Department, Wade left to search the southern area for the subject. The officer found him off River Road in the town of Mt. Morris sitting in his car. The subject was leaning back in his seat and there was a flurry of movement when he saw the officer. He appeared to put something under his seat and behind it. Wade asked him to get out of his car and he complied. When he got out, Wade could see drug paraphernalia sitting on the floorboard of his car. Wade asked him what was going on and he said “I’m having a bad day” and started to sob. The officer patted the subject down for weapons and felt ammunition in his pocket. He asked where the gun was and the subject said “in the back seat.” Wade asked if he was going to hurt himself with it, and the subject told the officer no, but he had told his mother over the phone he was going to. Wade handcuffed the man. Wade found live .22 LR rounds in his pocket and on his front seat. He also found a glass pipe and what turned out to be K2 synthetic marijuana. Wade secured the .22 caliber rifle in his patrol car and turned the subject over to Livingston County sheriff’s deputies.
Arbor Day truck assignment
On April 20, ECOs Nathan Ver Hague and Christopher Freeman participated in a truck stop along Interstate 86 in the town of Allegany with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the New York State Police (NYSP). The first truck checked by the ECOs was one that failed to stop at the rest stop. It is mandatory for all trucks to come through the rest stop to determine if they will be tested for violations. Freeman conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and made it turn around and come back to the checkpoint. Once there, this vehicle was found to have a severely cracked exhaust, numerous brake violations and the driver failed to properly fill out his log book. The ECOs issued the driver four citations for failure to obey a traffic control device, leaky exhaust, inadequate breaks and failure to maintain a log book, which is a misdemeanor under the Transportation Law. Once done receiving his tickets, he was placed out of service for the violations. While the ECOs were finishing up this truck, the NYSDOT inspectors brought to their attention that a truck they were inspecting was leaking antifreeze at a very quick rate. The driver was issued a citation for depositing a noisesome and unwholesome substance on or near a highway, which is a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, another vehicle inspected by the NYSDOT inspectors was found to be leaking diesel fuel at a drastic rate. This driver was issued citations for a leaky exhaust, inoperative horn and depositing a noisesome and unwholesome substance on or near a highway. The vehicle was place out of service due to the leaking diesel fuel. Later in the day, the ECOs stopped two different vehicles hauling regulated waste. One was not permitted to do so by the DEC and the other was found to not have his trailer listed on the permit. The ECOs issued a total of 11 tickets and, along with the two mentioned above, the NYSP also placed trucks out of service.
Sportsmen’s federation banquet
On April 14, Lt. Jim Reitmeier, along with ECO’s Will Burnell and Shawn Dussault, attended the annual Oswego County Sportsmen’s Federation Banquet held at the town of Scriba fire hall. At the banquet, Lt. Reitmeier was presented with the 2011 Law Enforcement Officer of the year award. Both officers and the lieutenant answered countless questions and concerns from the sportsmen and women of Oswego County.
On April 14, ECO Brett Armstrong, accompanied by Lt. Ric Warner, attended the daylong Safari Club International’s Youth Day at the Rockdale Rod and Gun Club in the town of Guilford. Armstrong presented the Rockdale Rod & Gun Club with a $100 check from the NYS Conservation Officers Association to help with event expenses. Officers assisted the attending youths by answering questions and holding fishing and laser shooting events. A well-attended K-9 demonstration by ECO Armstrong, Lt. Warner and K-9 Nitro demonstrated the skills of the K-9 partner in scent detection and handler protection for approximately 60 participants of the event.
The annual ATV SNIRT Run was held in Lewis County on April 14. EnCon Police assisted both the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department with ATV enforcement for the annual event in Lewis County and Jefferson County. Over 3,600 ATV riders came out for the ride, which runs the Brantingham area, town of Greig and Tug Hill Region. The day was fairly uneventful, even with a record number of 3,600 registrants. ECOs Fay Fuerch and Matthew Garrigan were getting ready to end their day when they observed two ATVs stopped in the road ahead of them. As they approached, they observed muddy tire tracks leading up from a steep ditch. Upon initial contact with the first rider standing next to his still running ATV, the ECOs immediately knew he was under the influence of alcohol. The bloodshot eyes, extremely slurred speech, and overpowering odor of alcohol were hard to hide. The rider stated that he fell asleep and rolled his ATV down the embankment and ended up under his ATV in the water-filled ditch. The rider denied any injuries or need for medical attention. Fuerch administered the required standard field sobriety tests, which he failed. When the rider was administered the alco-sensor test, he register a .202 percent BAC. The rider was placed under arrest and taken to Lewis County Sheriff’s Department for processing. When placed on the DataMaster one hour later, the rider registered a .20 percent BAC. The rider was charged with DWI and Aggravated DWI. The charges were answerable in the town of Lowville court.
In addition to the DWI arrest, EnCon Police wrote nine tickets in total, which consisted of state land enforcement, vehicle and traffic law enforcement, and operating ATVs on closed roads. Other agencies that assisted were state police, NYS Park Police and DEC Forest Rangers.