An Occasional Series about Local ECOs
Investigative Lieutenant Kenneth Bruno laughs as he recounts his journey to his current position with the NY Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Law Enforcement (NYDEC). He initially went to college to become an accountant. He then briefly pursued computer science because of his interest in video games before settling on Environmental Science. Lt Bruno ended up graduating from Plattsburgh State University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and a minor in business.
After graduation he worked as an assistant wildlife biologist for the Student Conservation Association in Idaho, but he didn’t want the seasonal life, following work from place to place. So he next opted for a permanent job working for the American Lung Association of Connecticut as their Director Environmental Health Programs for the next three years. It was good experience, but he knew it wasn’t a job he wanted until retirement. And, in 1996, he was admitted to the NYSDEC 11th Basic Training Academy for Uniformed Officers. This job sat well with then-ECO Bruno, because it ties in well with his education and interests. He points to then NY State Governor Theodore Roosevelt’s description of the ECOs who were then called “Game Protectors.” Today the mission of the ECOs is much broader: “To protect the environment, natural resources and people of the State of New York through law enforcement, education, and public outreach.”
After graduating from the academy, as a uniformed officer, he averaged 100 cases per year, including one that resulted in felony prosecution a of habitual game violator with a one-year federal prison term. In January of 2008, Lt. Bruno stopped donning the familiar green uniform on a daily basis and began his career as a non-uniformed officer serving as an Environmental Conservation Investigator in the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI). Both the uniformed officer and BECI Unit serve under the Office of Public Protection within the DEC. BECI Members have primary responsibility for:
- “Long term investigations of felony and serious misdemeanor offenses
- Investigations that are multi-venue or multi-regional and/or are felony or serious misdemeanor level offenses
- Long term undercover investigations
- Investigation and documentation of all deaths or serious physical injuries on DEC-owned or managed properties”
As an investigator, Lt Bruno’s goals are to:
- “Determine whether a crime has been committed.
- Legally obtain information and evidence to identify the responsible person.
- Arrest the suspect.
- Present the best possible case to the prosecutor”
After his promotion, NY DEC continued to provide training for Lt. Bruno with courses such as New York State Police – Bureau of Criminal Investigations. As an investigator, Lt. Bruno conducted 67 investigations, some of which resulted in felony convictions under NY Environmental Conservation Law. Lt. Bruno led two successful undercover wildlife operations as case manager. His investigations during this period resulted in over $180,000 in penalties and fines collected.
By September 2011, Lt Bruno was promoted to Investigative Lieutenant of the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations. This is the position that he holds today. He supervises three Investigators in Region 5, covering eight counties in northern New York. During this time, he has supervised numerous felony investigations. He is the Lead Instructor for Hunter Related Shooting Incident Investigations (HRSI). His formal training on HRSIs first occurred in 2009 (photo 1). Lt Bruno explains that when someone shoots someone while hunting, it is not an accident and that the use of the word “incident” is intentional.
Bruno is a strong advocate of wearing hunter orange after investigating HRSIs (photos 2 and 3). Investigating HRSI requires the use of many tools, including GIS technology (photo 4).
Investigators are also responsible for a wide range of infractions against the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) including solid waste (photo 5) and clean water (photo 6).
Lt.Bruno also has investigated and prosecuted successfully other environmental crimes in the Adirondacks such as timber theft and illegal actions by hunting guides.
NY DEC provides a broad range of support and training for officers who wish to further their knowledge and skills. Lt Bruno and the NY DEC have benefited from other training besides the HRSI (see box). Furthermore, Lt. Bruno, as a certified instructor for the NY State Department of Criminal Justice Services, serves as an instructor to other officers. He is certified as a Firearms Instructor, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) Instructor, and Defensive Tactics Instructor. His service as an instructor extends beyond the DEC. He is an Assistant Professor at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh NY where he has taught courses in Criminal Investigations and Police Operations. Recently (October 2015), Lt. Bruno visited Paul Smith’s College where he gave a presentation “Investigating Environmental Crimes in the Adirondacks” as part of the Fisheries and Wildlife Science Seminar.
Lt. Bruno was awarded several Captain’s Commendations for his work on a hunt for a fugitive who shot a NY state police trooper, an investigation in the illegal taking of moose, and an investigation Silver Lake against a corporation (in 2005, 2009, and 2012).
Box 1: Training certifciations gained by Lt. Bruno during his career
NYS Homeland Security – Woodland Tactics and Operations 2013
NYS Homeland Security – Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response 2012
DEA – Marijuana Trafficking & Eradication Strategy 2012
NY/NJ High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – Interview & Interrogation 2012
NYS DCJS – Search Warrant Training Course 2011
NYS DCJS – French for Law Enforcement Training Course 2011
NYS DEC – Firearms Instructor School 2011
MAGLOCLEN – Gang Awareness Training 2010
St. Petersburg College – Undercover Operations 2010
NYS DCJS – FBI Statement Analysis Training 2009
Academy of Fire Science and Training – Hazardous Materials Technician 2009
International Hunter Education Assoc.- Hunter Related Shooting Academy 2009
New York State Police – Basic Investigators School (BCI School) 2008
NYS DCJS – Police Photography Basic Course 2008
John Jay College – DNA Evidence Recognition, Collection, and Preservation 2008
NYS DCJS – Breath Alcohol Analysis Operator Certification 2003
NYS DCJS – Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Seminar 2002
MAGLOCLEN – Drug Trafficking & Interdiction Enforcement Training 2002
NYS DCJS – SFST Certification 2001
NYSP EVOC Instructor School 1999
MAGLOCLEN – Courtroom Testimony and Demeanor Training 1999
NYSDEC Defensive Tactics Instructor School 1998
NYS DCJS Instructor Development School 1998
MAGLOCLEN – Interview & Interrogation Techniques 1998
NYSDEC 11th Basic Training Academy for Uniformed Officers 1996
For more information about our local Environmental Conservation Officers, see the story last fall in The Apollos on ECO James Cranker.
Jorie Favreau is a Professor of Wildlife Biology in the Fisheries and Wildlife Science program at Paul Smith’s College, where she teaches courses such as Animal Behavior and Techniques in Wildlife Management. Animal behavior, particularly movements of mammals, is her passion. She has conducted research on snowshoe hares in the Adirondacks to answer theoretical questions about foraging and movement behavior. Jorie lives in Tupper Lake with her husband Nathan, who is an Environmental Conservation Officer for NYSDEC. She enjoys hiking and paddling in the Adirondacks with her husband, son, and their labrador retrievers.