Albany, NY - March 1, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 43 Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Ranger recruits were sworn in as New York police officers in a ceremony at the Department of Environmental Conservation training academy in Pulaski.
“Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers are on the front lines in our efforts to preserve the environment and protect the health and safety of New Yorkers and visitors alike,” Governor Cuomo said. “I applaud this new class of recruits who will serve this state by upholding New York’s rich tradition of environmental stewardship, and safeguarding our citizens and our natural resources for generations to come.”
The Department of Environmental Conservation opened the 21st Basic School for Uniformed Officers on February 12 with these 32 Environmental Conservation Officers and 11 Forest Ranger recruits reporting for duty. The recruits do not receive the Oath of Office until two weeks into the academy due to a high attrition rate at the start of the vigorous 28-week, 1,288-hour academy. The class is expected to graduate on August 25, 2017.
“Receiving the Oath of Office is significant for the recruits because this is the time they make the move from civilian life to law enforcement officer,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Today, these recruits are taking a vow to uphold both the Constitution of the United States and of New York State, and I commend their desire to serve New York and its citizens.”
The recruits range in age from 22 to 44 years old, come from 28 counties across the state, and include both a Pennsylvania and a New Jersey native. They also include four former corrections officers, two former Sheriff Deputies, an Air Force veteran, a former town police officer, a former Coast Guardsman, and an Army reservist. The full list of recruits is available here.
While the first few weeks of the academy focus primarily on basic police skills such as physical training, drill and ceremony, and computer skills, recruits will later delve into intensive instruction, including firearms training, swiftwater rescues, wildland fire suppression, and emergency vehicle operation.
An ECO's job duties are centered on the 71 chapters of New York State Environmental Conservation Law and can range from investigating deer poaching and solid waste dumping to checking fishing licenses on a local waterway. In 2016, ECOs responded to more than 26,400 calls and issued more than 22,150 tickets.
Forest Rangers' duties focus on the public's use of approximately 5 million acres of DEC-administered state lands and forests and can span from patrolling state properties to conducting search and rescue operations and fighting forest fires.
In 2016, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 356 search and rescue missions, extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.
"Since 1880 the mission of an ECO is vital to the protection of New York's abundant natural resources," said DEC Division of Law Enforcement Director Joseph Schneider. "From Montauk Point to the City of Buffalo to deep in the Adirondack wilderness, ECOs are the ‘Thin Green Line’ protecting New Yorkers from environmental damage and exploitation, whether enforcing clean air and water regulations, supporting fish and wildlife laws, investigating large-scale environmental crimes, or ensuring solid waste management."
“Since 1885, Forest Rangers have been devoted to saving the lives of those who journey into our wilderness areas and protecting the great natural resources of this state,” said Director of the Division of Forest protection Eric Lahr. “Over the next several months, these dedicated men and women will prepare for the rigors of a Forest Ranger career, from the Pine Barrens of Long Island to the Gorges of the Southern Tier and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks.”
DEC Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers
ECOs and Forest Rangers are full-fledged State Police officers and are often called upon to assist in some of New York's most important police work. These officers were among the first responders on the scene to help in the aftermath of Sept. 11; they assisted in Superstorm Sandy response; and helped in the 2015 search for two escaped felons from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.
The first Forest Rangers, originally known as Fire Wardens, were put into service in 1885 when the New York State Legislature established the Forest Preserve of New York State. The first eight ECOs, originally called Game Protectors, were appointed for service in 1880.
The recruits in this newest class were selected from a list of qualifications and passing scores generated from the most recent Civil Service exam, which was given in 2013. To view job qualifications for ECOs, visit the Environmental Conservation Officer job description web page. For Forest Rangers, visit the Forest Ranger job description web page.
For an inside look into what it takes to become an ECO or a Forest Ranger, watch a 4-minute clip from last year's Basic School for Uniformed Officers on YouTube.
Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned patrol areas, typically consisting of one or two counties. They will join the ranks of 286 ECOs and 132 Forest Rangers currently serving across the state.