A career as an Environmental Conservation Officer presents many challenges, but also offers many rewards. An ECO’s primary duty is to enforce the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. This is the law that protects all the natural resources of our state, including fish and wildlife. In addition, ECOs have many other responsibilities that are directly related to protecting our resources. As sworn police officers, ECOs can enforce all laws that are in effect in our state. Vehicle and Traffic Law, Navigation Law, Snowmobile Law, and Penal Law are some of the other laws that are routinely enforced by ECOs. In addition to enforcement of laws, ECOs are frequently involved in public relations work and education. They instruct Sportsman Education classes, where sportsmen and women learn the fundamentals of hunting and trapping. They give talks to many organizations and groups, including student classes from grade school through college levels, and sportsmen’s clubs. Many ECOs are certified police instructors and participate in the instruction of many specialized fields of law enforcement. ECOs have contributed to the education of personnel from many other law
enforcement agencies in areas such as defensive tactics, emergency vehicle operation, firearms proficiency, all-terrain vehicle operation, and impaired driver recognition.
ECOs live in the areas they patrol, and work from their homes. Most patrols are conducted from a marked patrol vehicle that may be a four-wheel drive SUV or a standard police sedan, depending on the terrain they cover. Patrols are also conducted by airplane, helicopter, boat, canoe, all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, personal watercraft and on foot, depending on the
assignment, the area and the time of year. ECOs must be resourceful, confident and competent since much of their work is conducted without the assistance of a partner. In some of the more remote locations, assistance may be hours away.
A glimpse into the nature and variety of work performed daily by ECOs can be found by reading some of the monthly reports in our On Patrol page. Archived reports can be found on the Officers on Patrol page on the NYSDEC website.
The first step in the process of becoming an Environmental Conservation Officer is taking the civil service examination for that position (Information for Upcoming Exam in Fall of 2016, application deadline is October 5th). To be eligible to take the examination, candidates must meet certain academic and/or work experience criteria. That criteria can be found by clicking here or on the NYSDEC website on a career as an Environmental Conservation Officer.
Upon passing the civil service examination, candidates are placed on an eligibility list according to the grade they achieved on the test. To be considered for a position as an ECO, candidates must also pass medical physicals, psychological screening, and physical agility tests. Once all the required tests are concluded, and the candidates’ background investigations are completed, interview panels are convened. The eligible candidates are selected for hiring based on their performance before the interview board.
Once hired, candidates begin training for their new responsibilities. The NYSDEC’s Basic Training School for Uniformed Officers is conducted at the NYSDEC Law Enforcement Training Academy, which is located near Pulaski, New York. The Basic Training School is twenty-six weeks in length, and recruit candidates are required to reside at the Academy during the training week which runs from Monday through Friday.