Eco Police Officers to the Rescue

Environmental Conservation Officers are the boots on the ground, protecting the environment in New York. (Photo: Jen [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

An article about New York City’s eco police appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. In the article, Polluters, Beware: These Eco-Police Officers Are for Real, Mireya Navarro discusses the role that 20 New York City environmental conservation officers play in ensuring the citizens don’t break environmental laws.

“Created in 1880, when they were known as “game protectors” and watched over game and fish, these eco-police officers are now part of the State Department of Environmental Conservation and have become more prominent in recent years as public consciousness about the role of pollution in global warming has grown.” Source: The New York Times

In 1970, the Department of Environmental Conservation was formally created and the game protectors became Environmental Conservation Officers. In September of 1971, these individuals were first recognized as official police officers.

“At the forefront of New York's effort to clean our air and water, save our wilderness, protect our wildlife and make the environment a better place for us all is the Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO). As the uniformed law enforcement representative of the Department of Environmental Conservation, the ECO is the person in the field, responsible for the enforcement of the environmental laws and regulations of New York and for the detection and investigation of suspected violations.” Source: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

The state employs 3,000 Environmental Conservation Officers, unfortunately for job seekers in the state, there are currently no open positions.

Most, if not all, states have environmental conservation officers. These officers may be called game and fish wardens or wildlife officers. However, you don’t usually see these individuals patrolling the streets of major cities handing out citations for auto emissions.

As I drove down the road today looking at black smoke spiraling out of the tailpipe of the car in front of me, I then looked up to the brown cloud that covers my city in the cooler months. Today I’m going to have to keep my asthmatic daughter from playing outside with her friends. I can only hope that one day I will see environmental conservation officers patrolling the streets of Phoenix.