DEEP: EnCon Police - History

History of Connecticut's Environmental Conservation Police

Prior to 1895, the protection of fish and game was the responsibility of the towns and counties.  In 1895 the Connecticut General Assembly established the Commission of Fisheries & Game which appointed the first "Special Game Protectors". The first Special Game Protectors were Edson L. Perkins of Litchfield, Charles N. Ellsworth of Collinsville, Theodore D. Adams of Seymour; George W. Eaton of Stafford Springs, Jeremiah G. Dunbar of New London, Elton E. Warren of New Hartford, Henry M. Alling of New Haven, Thomas H. Ward of Lebanon, Andrew W. Loomis of Willimantic and Willard L. Selleck of Bethany.  The Special Game Protector has evolved into today's Conservation Officer.  With the abolishment of the County Sheriffs system, the State Environmental Conservation Police are now the longest serving state law enforcement entity in Connecticut.

The most significant of the organizational and statutory changes that have taken place since 1895 are listed below:

1895 - Commissioner of Fish and Game shall appoint a necessary number of Special Protectors who may serve in any county during the pleasure of Commissioners, and who shall have the same powers and fees as Fish Wardens and Game Wardens.

1913 - The Superintendent of Fisheries and Game shall appoint one person from each county as a fish and game warden. Any warden may deputize another person to assist. The Superintendent shall appoint not less than ten nor more than twenty Special Fish and Game Protectors for each county.

1925 - The State Board of Fisheries and Game shall appoint a State Warden who shall have general supervision and control of all county and deputy wardens. Said board shall form time to time appoint form each county one fish and game warden and not more than ten deputy wardens.

1929 - The State Board of Fisheries and Game shall appoint not more than ninety men as Fish and Game Wardens and shall from such number appoint a Chief Warden, and eight County Wardens. The remaining wardens shall be known as Deputy Wardens.

1953 - The Superintendent of the State Board of Fisheries and Game shall with the approval of said board appoint such number of Conservation Officers as may be necessary for the efficient operation of said board.

1955 - The Director of the State Board of Fisheries and Game shall with the approval of said board appoint such number of Conservation Officers as may be necessary for the efficient operation of said board. Said Director may supplement the regular Conservation Officer force by appointing as Special Conservation Officer any employee of said board.

1971 - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was created, abolishing the State Board of Fisheries and Game, State Park and Forest Commission, and Boating Commission. These functions were taken over by bureaus within the Branch of Environmental Conservation. The DEP maintained two separate law enforcement job series: The Environmental Protection Law Enforcement Officer (state park police) and the Conservation Officer series. They remained under separate chains of command with distinct sets of responsibilities.

1993 - The Environmental Protection Law Enforcement Officer and Conservation Officer job series were consolidated into the Conservation Enforcement Officer job series, expanding the job functions of each to include those of the other.

1998 - On November 20, James V. Spignesi Jr. became the first Conservation Enforcement Officer in Connecticut's history to give his life in the line of duty.

2004 - The Conservation Enforcement Officer title was changed to State Environmental Conservation Police Officer.

State Environmental Conservation Police