New York Cuffs & Collars – September 6th, 2013
Illegal ATV operation
On March 10, ECO John Lifrieri was on patrol in Elmira when Chemung County dispatched him regarding individuals operating ATVs in a DEC flood control area along the Chemung River in West Elmira. Officer Marrone of the West Elmira PD tracked two operators riding in that area and detained them. He contacted dispatch for an ECO to assist. After Lifrieri arrived the drivers were interviewed. The pair, both of Elmira, were charged with conducting regulated activity on flood control lands without a permit by Lifrieri, and Marrone charged both operators with operating an ATV without a registration and insurance. Their cases were to be heard in the town of Elmira Court.
‘No Smoking’ zone
During March, ECO Alan Brassard conducted heavy-duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) enforcement on Staten Island. While patrolling an area known-for heavy HDDV activity, Brassard observed one vehicle emitting large puffs of black smoke from its exhaust. Brassard conducted a traffic stop and subsequently a smoke meter test on the vehicle identified that indeed the vehicle was emitting exhaust over opacity limits, which is a violation of environmental conservation law. The driver was issued a summons for emitting exhaust over the opacity allowed by law.
Weeding out illegal pesticide applicators (Nassau and Suffolk counties)
During the first week of April, ECOs Liza Bobseine, Don Damrath, Denise Ferraro, Josh Sulkey and Joshua Wolgast teamed up with Region 1 Division of Pesticides inspectors to get a handle on the pesticide applicators who were working without certifications. The teams worked throughout both Suffolk and Nassau counties, from East Hampton to Hempstead. The detail proved very productive, with over 30 summonses issued in a four-day period. The most common violations were unregistered businesses and uncertified applicators, followed by expired HDDV inspections, failure to affix business registrations to vehicles, failure to post warning markers and failure to maintain records.
Late-night fishing violations
On March 24, ECO Dawn Galvin worked a late tour to check on some nighttime striped bass fishing activity. After dark, she observed a vehicle parked along the side of the road off Route 9W in the town of Stony Point. Unsure where the subjects might be in the dark, she decided to observe the vehicle from a few hundred yards away and wait for them to return. At approximately 9 p.m. Galvin observed the subjects return to the vehicle. By the time she reached the vehicle, the four subjects had put everything in the trunk. She asked if they had any luck fishing and they said they did not. She asked if she could check the trunk and they complied. She observed a black garbage bag full of striped bass. All subjects at this point put their heads down. A total of 15 striped bass were counted, seven of which were less than 18 inches. Each subject was issued tickets for over the limit and undersized striped bass. As Galvin was clearing the area, she heard a park police officer running a vehicle license plate from a vehicle that was parked after dark in a known fishing access area. Galvin responded and found a subject with a bucket of five striped bass, three of which measured under 18 inches. He was also issued tickets for over the limit and undersized striped bass. A total of ten tickets were issued and were pending in Stony Point town court.
Fish and chips
On April 5, a Division of Law Enforcement intern joined ECO Don Damrath for a patrol of Long Island's North Fork. Along Mattituck Creek the two observed a local marina power-washing docks already floating in the creek for the coming boating season. What seemed like a harmless maintenance practice at first glance turned out to be a violation of environmental conservation law upon closer inspection. The employee was power-washing the paint off of the docks and directly into the creek. As the paint chips floated down the creek, Damrath ceased the operation and issued the marina owner the appropriate summons.
Illegal solid waste disposal
On April 8, ECO Myles Schillinger received a call from the town of Hurley fire chief requesting an ECO for an illegal burn. An investigation revealed that construction and demolition debris was being burned in the early morning hours. The fire contained aerosol paint cans which exploded, spraying the defendant’s red vehicle with blue paint. The suspect was cited for illegally disposal of construction and demolition debris and burning during the closed period. The citations were returnable in Town of Hurley Justice Court.
A ‘crappie” day
On March 31, Lt. George Steele and ECO Chris Lattimer were inspecting fish markets in Flushing Queens for environmental conservation law violations. As they were checking the tanks at one market, Steele observed a number of crappie in a tank labeled as sunfish. In all there were 7 pounds of crappie in the tank and the store could not produce any paperwork showing where the fish originated. The store was issued a summons for the illegal sale of protected wildlife and the seized product was disposed of. Later the same day, Steele and Lattimer were inspecting another fish market and found them to have two tanks full of live crappie for sale. There were approximately 68 pounds of fish in the tanks and the store also could not provide documentation of where the fish originated. All of the fish were seized and disposed of and the store was issued a summons for the illegal sale of protected wildlife. In all, 71 pounds of crappie was seized and two summonses were issued, both returnable to Queens County Criminal Court.
Up to their elbows in alligators
On April 20, Lt. Dallas Bengel and ECO Mark Simmons responded to a call of an alligator observed swimming in the Peconic River in Manorville. After catching an approximately two-foot alligator with a catch pole, they observed three more alligators in the water. The officers quickly collected and secured each of the animals, taping their jaws closed for safe keeping. The alligators, whose sizes ranged from two to three feet, were lethargic due to the cold water they had been exposed to. They were transferred to the Long Island Marine Aquarium in Riverhead.
Out of control burn
On April 27, ECO George Wilber responded to a 911 call of a wildfire off Fuller Hill Road in the town of Colchester. Wilber requested 911 have the local fire department respond as the smoke could be seen from a mile away. Once on scene, it was determined that roughly half an acre was on fire as a result of the responsible party burning scrap wood. The Colchester Fire Department arrived in time to extinguish the blaze before it could reach the neighbor’s property. Although the fire was only 40 feet from the neighbor’s cabin, the fire department contained the wildfire to the responsible party’s property. The fire had burned about three quarters of an acre and left the accountable with minor burns to his abdomen. The injuries were assessed and treated on scene. The individual received a citation for the offense and was to appear in Downsville Court.
On March 29, ECO James Davey received an anonymous phone tip stating, “check out the Croton Dam.” The caller then hung up the phone, leaving no further information. Davey proceeded to Croton Dam Park. As he pulled down the entrance drive, Davey observed a group fishing under the bridge leading to the parking lot. While checking the group of five for licenses, Davey observed two small brown trout that had been landed by the group in a five-gallon bucket. A woman in the group was standing in front of the bucket attempting to block it from view. As Davey asked her to move, one of the men suddenly took off running. Davey took chase and pursued the suspect for approximately a quarter of a mile up the bank, through the parking lot and out onto the fields along the river. As the distance closed between officer and suspect, the desperate fisherman veered down a trail in an attempt to lose the officer in the woods. Davey ran after the man down the trail and watched as the suspect jumped into the river and attempted to swim across the Croton River in the still frigid water from the spring melt. The swimmer made it out about 20 yards out and began to be swept downstream. At this point, the man turned around and began swimming back to shore. Davey ran downstream after the suspect and assisted him onto the ground as he was getting up to run yet again. The suspect was taken into custody and escorted on foot back to Davey's patrol vehicle. By the time the two arrived back at the vehicle, Davey observed the man shivering uncontrollably and contacted Croton EMS regarding the hypothermic subject. While waiting for the assist from EMS, Davey wrapped the subject in a wool blanket, placed him in the patrol vehicle and turned the heat on high. EMS personnel arrived 10 minutes later and took the fisherman into the ambulance, stripped him down and used warming blankets to bring the subjects temperature back up while checking his vitals. After refusing further medical examination, the subject was charged with multiple environmental conservation law offenses. The party the man was with was additionally charged by Westchester County Police with several counts of loitering in a county park after hours, as well as several vehicle and traffic law violations.