Thursday, January 26th, 2023
Thursday, January 26th, 2023

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Rookie Environmental Conservation Officers head afield to start new year

On Dec. 9, 18 Environmental Conservation Officers joined the ranks of New York’s ECO force when their graduation ceremony was held at the NYS Fairgrounds, in Syracuse. (Photos courtesy of NYSDEDC)

Syracuse, N.Y. — The 23rd Basic School for Environmental Conservation Police Officers recently graduated 18 new ECOs. The graduation ceremony was held Dec. 9 at the Empire Expo Center at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

The new ECOs completed six months of law enforcement and natural resources training in the classroom and in the field. They are now working in communities statewide to protect fish and wildlife and preserve environmental quality across New York.

At their academy in Pulaski, Oswego County, the recruits completed more than 1,000 hours of training. The Pulaski facility has served as the home of these trainings for several years. While the first weeks focused primarily on basic police skills such as physical training, drill and ceremony, and computer lessons, recruits also delved into more intensive instruction including firearms training, emergency
vehicle operation, chemical waste dumping, and identifying poachers,
among other skills.

“Our newest ECO class made it through a rigorous training process to join
their fellow officers in the difficult but rewarding law enforcement
work ahead in communities across the state,” DEC Commissioner Basil
Seggos said

DEC’s Law Enforcement Director, Karen Przyklek, said, “These six months of
training prepared our recruits to face a diverse workload of cases in
both general law enforcement and environmental law. Each day our
officers are working a number of cases, from enforcing clean air and
water regulations, to supporting fish and wildlife laws, and
investigating large scale environmental crimes, all in an effort to
protect New Yorkers from environmental pollution and exploitation.”

Of the 20 recruits who started, 18 remained once the training ended and
will join DEC’s ECO force for a total of 286, which includes several
members on terminal leave (DEC’s press states there are currently 305
ECOs). That still leaves nearly 60 vacancies, as the allotted numbers
are 342, according to Matt Krug, who serves as the director of Encon
Officers/Investigators For PBA of NYS.

38 new Forest Rangers graduated and were honored in Newcomb and Lake Placid.

Also at the ceremony, individual awards to recruits who scored highest in certain fields were presented as follows:

• The Physical Fitness Awards went to ECOs Abigail Kortz, of Troy, and Bradley Smith, of Plainview, for participating in voluntary physical
training over the course of the Basic School and scoring highest on physical tests.

• The Outstanding Recruit Award went to ECO Emilio Zullo, of Somers. The
award, presented by the New York State Conservation Officers
Association, is given to the officer recruit who displays the best
qualities of an ECO, as selected by his or her peers.

• The Law Enforcement Stewardship Award, presented to the police officer
recruit who demonstrated leadership abilities above and beyond what was
expected, went to ECO Justin Rappold, of Albany, who was selected by his

• The Law Enforcement Academic Award, presented to the ECO recruit with
the highest academic grade point average, went to ECO Timothy Day, of

• The Law Enforcement Marksmanship Award, presented to the officer recruit who finished his or her firearms training with the highest average score,
went to ECO Casey Giarratana, of Floral Park.

The Environmental Conservation Police Officer title, in the various forms of its evolution over the decades, is the oldest statewide enforcement job in New York
State. Originally, game protectors were first appointed for service in
1880 and the proud history of the Division continues more than 140 years

Last year alone, ECOs and Investigators responded to more than 26,000 calls and
worked on cases that resulted in nearly 11,600 tickets or arrests
for violations ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping,
illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions

This year’s ECO academy was the most recent class since 2019, after holding
back-to-back academies in 2016 and 2017. On Dec. 2, a ceremony was also
held in Lake Placid inducting 38 Forest Rangers into the field, bringing
the total Forest Ranger force up to 159.

New Environmental Conservation Police Officers

Tyler Ableson, Cortlandt Manor
Michael Broughton, Staten Island
Benjamin Clinger, Randolph
Timothy Day, Binghamton
Laura DeVito, Shirley
Kyle Farner, Gowanda
Casey Giarratana, Floral Park
Christopher Goonan, Syracuse
Derek Hilton, Hannibal
Frank Keegan, Troy
Joan Korey, Pine Bush
Abigail Kortz, Troy
Justin McGhee, Hampton Bays
Justin Rappold, Albany
Bradley Smith, Plainview
Brandon Swart, Cazenovia
Nicholas Vandenbos, Warwick
Emilio Zullo, Somers

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