New York Cuffs & Collars – March 7th, 2014
ECO Matthew Baker was conducting marine fish inspections at a pier on Staten Island. The popular fluke fishing area was busy and the fishermen he checked were in compliance. Working his way down the beach, the officer noticed a few people near a rock jetty watching him furtively. When Baker asked the individuals if they had any luck, one replied, “A little” but he seemed unhappy about it. The officer examined the men’s cooler and discovered a large bluefish, a legal-sized fluke, and multiple parts and pieces of more fluke. He asked the fishermen why these particular fluke were cut into pieces and received no response. He began to sort the pieces and discovered he could reassemble the parts like a jigsaw puzzle and after some time and concentration he was able to reconstitute several undersized fish. One individual was issued a summons for possession of undersized fluke.
ECO Shea Mathis was performing surveillance of an area known for poaching by spear fishermen in Far Rockaway. Before long several divers entered the water with scuba gear and spear guns. Mathis waited for diver’s air tanks to run out when they would be forced to surface. The spear fishermen approached their vehicles carrying stringers of fish and promptly tossed them into the bushes, not knowing an ECO was watching. Mathis then approached the individuals and asked if they had caught anything. The fishermen replied that they hadn’t. Mathis then retrieved the two stringers from the bushes and the fishermen knew that they were caught. One stringer contained three blackfish out of season and an undersized striped bass, while the other contained an undersized striped bass. The fishermen were issued summons for possessing undersized striped bass, possessing undersized and out of season blackfish, and fishing in the marine district without a registration.
Clammers Busted in Jamaica Bay
ECOs Matthew Nichols and Shea Mathis were performing surveillance of a group of spear-fishing poachers when they were contacted by an informant that a large group of individuals were taking clams from Jamaica Bay. Shellfish taken from the uncertified waters of Jamaica Bay have the potential for a public safety hazard if they make it to market. The ECOs broke off the surveillance and patrolled to the area of the illegal harvest. Mathis walked around the point of Old Mill Creek and observed several groups of individuals digging for clams. Nichols and Mathis rounded up the 16 subjects and their illegally harvested shellfish. While interviewing the subjects, the ECOs found that all of the clammers were in the same group and had arrived in the same livery bus. The clams were photographed and then returned to the waters of Jamaica Bay. The ECOs then marched the long line of clammers to their patrol vehicle, where each was issued a misdemeanor criminal summons for taking shellfish from uncertified waters.
Fishing violations earn applause
ECO Denise Ferraro received a call stating that there was a fisherman keeping short fluke at Fire Island Inlet. Ferraro responded to the site and decided to check Democratic Point on foot. Within seconds of parking her patrol vehicle, she stepped onto a small bluff and observed a woman catch a blackfish and hide it on a stringer under a rock. Not soon after, the woman caught another blackfish. As she was reeling the fish in, she turned and saw the officer, after which she unhooked the fish and returned it to the water. After confronting the woman about the undersized fish on the stringer, a summons was issued. Ferraro then continued along the beach, where a fisherman told her that the party she had just checked saw her approaching. One of the men in the group then buried his fluke in the sand and placed his cooler over it. She went back and questioned the man, who later dug up his fish. As this was happening, the officer observed a third violator walk toward the grass with a lumpy towel. He, too, was checked and his short fluke was located in the grass. By this time, a crowd had gathered and erupted in a round of applause. Fisherman cheered as the parties were walked off the beach. A total of 10 tickets was issued for out of season blackfish, undersized fluke and blackfish, failing to release a fish without undue harm and no fishing registry.
Fresh-squeezed black sea bass
When checking fisherman, officers find fish in the most interesting places. ECOs Mike Unger and Dustin Oliver checked a large group of fisherman in the back bay under Sloop Channel Bridge. Fish were discovered under rocks, in bags and even one stuffed into a bottle. Seven tickets were issued for not having marine fishing registrations and possession of undersized black sea bass.
I FISH NY
ECO Alan Brassard attended an I Fish NY event in Staten Island. The I Fish NY program’s primary goal is to increase fishing participation and awareness of the outstanding fishing opportunities in New York state. In Region 2, the I Fish NY program is handled by Melissa Cohen and the Region 2 Fisheries Unit. Every year the Region 2 ECOs assist the fisheries unit and attend multiple events throughout the city, helping kids fish and educating them on the rules and regulations regarding salt and freshwater fishing.
Emission of air contaminants
While at the Cattaraugus County Fair detail, Hansen received a call from Captain Blovsky with the City of Olean Police Department that a company was sandblasting pipes, causing dust to blow into the neighborhood and across residential streets. Hansen responded to the scene and observed workers spray-painting pipes with no containment of spray. Hansen interviewed the foreman who was doing the spraying and informed him of the air contaminant violations and issued him a ticket for emission of air contaminants that interfere with life and property.
The following week, Hansen and Alan Zylinski from the Air Resources Division inspected the site with the owners of the company and they agreed to comply with a department Consent Order that included a fine along with a list of tasks to be completed for present and future compliance with DEC regulations.
ECOs Eric Templeton and Andy McCormick responded to an anonymous report of an illegal alligator being kept in a bathtub at an address in the town of Colesville. They arrived to find nobody home, but just after clearing McCormick received a call from the homeowner stating that he was alerted that DEC police officers were at his house and that he was currently at work. When asked, the homeowner denied having an alligator and offered to let the ECOs look in his home when he got home that evening. The officers waited for the homeowner to return and entered the house with him. They were led to the bathroom, where the alligator was being stored in a plastic storage container in the bathtub. The homeowner admitted to McCormick that he was attempting to have a friend remove the alligator from his house, but soon realized that was not going to be an option when the friend driving by called him and advised that the officers were waiting in the driveway. The alligator, approximately 2½ to 3 feet long, was seized and later placed with a licensed exhibitor who is currently permitted for two alligators and will be requesting to add a third to his permit. The unlawful possession of an alligator charge was pending against the homeowner in Colesville Justice Court.
Unlicensed guiding on Canandaigua Lake
Ontario County ECO Daniel Malloy received a complaint regarding a charter boat operating without a New York DEC guide license. Other information was compiled from the guide’s Facebook page, which advertised his guiding business. As a result of this information, an undercover detail was set up to investigate the illegal activity. In late August 2013, two plainclothes conservation officers went on a fishing charter on the unlicensed guide’s charter boat. They departed from the city of Canandaigua pier and fished Canandaigua Lake for approximately four hours, gaining further information about the illegal operation. In New York state, fishing guides are required to be licensed on certain waters. Guides are required to pass a written test pertaining to boats, canoes and fishing. First aid, CPR and water safety classes are also required to guide fishermen for hire. Upon returning from the fishing charter, the boat captain was questioned by Malloy and Lt. Thomas Lutz. The “guide” stated that he was in the process of getting his guide license but did not complete all of the required tests. He was issued a ticket for the violation of guiding fishermen for hire without being a licensed New York state fishing guide. The case was pending in the Canandaigua Town Court.
State Fair outreach
Conservation officers provided coverage for the 2013 New York State Fair detail. A total of 20 officers rotated through to cover the staffing needs at the Division of Law Enforcement booth and display. The State Fair continues to be one of the division’s largest outreach opportunities. Officers answered questions from the public regarding hunting, fishing, trapping, and environmental quality regulatory changes. In addition, officers began recruiting officers for the upcoming ECO exam. Over 851,000 people attended the fair, with many of those visiting the DEC aquarium building where the DLE booth is located. Over 3,000 ECO exam recruitment brochures, “Become an ECO” tip-strips, and Civil Service exam announcements were handed out. The 2013 display focused on history items from the division and the ECOs who have fallen in the line of duty.