DEEP: DEP Honors Environmental Conservation Police Officers

April 13, 2011
 
DEP Honors Environmental Conservation Police Officers
Annual Ceremony Recognizes Outstanding Performance
Exemplary efforts to protect public safety and environment cited

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today will recognize seven of its Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Officers and present a special Unit Citation to the officers of the DEPís Western District.

"Todayís honorees Ė and all of our EnCon officers Ė are part of a unique law enforcement team charged with protecting the people of this state as well as our natural resources and wildlife," said DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. "In addition to fulfilling traditional law enforcement functions, EnCon officers are the watchdogs of the beauty and richness of our state ensuring that we leave a Connecticut for our children and grandchildren that is as scenic and abundant with wildlife as it is today."

At the DEPís annual EnCon recognition ceremony, held this year at Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, Commissioner Esty presented nine awards in five categories:

  • Medal for Meritorious Service: Officer Erin Crossman of Norfolk and Officer Keith Williams of New Hartford. A Medal for Meritorious Service award bar with 2 gold stars will be permanently displayed on each officerís uniform.
  • Medal for Outstanding Service: Officer Harold Lindo of East Haddam, Officer Erin Crossman of Norfolk, Special Conservation Officer John Lambert of East Lyme and Officer Greg Ulkus of Vernon. A Medal for Achievement award bar with one gold star will be permanently displayed on each officerís uniform.
  • Boating Officer of the Year: Officer Paul Hilli of Goshen.
  • Conservation Police Officer of the Year: Officer Stephen Stanko of East Hampton
  • Unit Citation: Officers from the Western District
State Environmental Conservation Police

Known as "Special Game Protectors" when first created in 1895, the State Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police are responsible for protecting the public and Connecticut's natural resources through public education and outreach, prevention of crime and accidents and the enforcement of laws and regulations. EnCon officers work in three law enforcement districts - East, West and Marine - and nine areas of expertise: Fish and Game, Boating, Commercial Fishing, Wildlife Management, Parks and Forests, Recreational Vehicles, Search and Rescue, Homeland Security, and Public Outreach.

All EnCon officers are fully certified law enforcement officials with full arrest powers. In addition to traditional law enforcement duties, they have special responsibilities for protecting Connecticutís natural resources and wildlife.

The EnCon police are a part of the DEPís Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and are under the command of Colonel Kyle Overturf.

2011 Conservation Officer Awards

Medal for Meritorious Service

The Medal for Meritorious Service shall be awarded to any person who renders service beyond the ordinary course of duty with alertness, perseverance, or timely judgment in the performance of a difficult task which results in the protection of life, the recovery of stolen property, the prevention or solving of a major crime, or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.

Officer Erin Crossman
Hometown: Norfolk
District: Western
Date of Hire: 10/14/2005

On December 22, 2010 Officer Crossman was on patrol in the town of Torrington. While traveling on Route 8, Officer Crossman heard State Police dispatch troopers to an accident in the area of exit 46 on Route 8 North. Officer Crossman responded to the scene and found a single vehicle accident into the Greenwoods road overpass and the male occupant was severely injured. Officer Crossman contacted State Police, Troop B advising them of her location and immediately began CPR on the driver. Officer Crossman continued CPR with the help of a Trooper until EMS personnel arrived. Unfortunately, the driverís injuries were so severe he did not survive.

Officer Keith Williams
Hometown: New Hartford
District: Western
Date of Hire: 06/25/2008

On April 6, 2010 Officer Crossman and Williams were assisting in the search for a fugitive, Brody James Whitaker, in the town of Winsted. The fugitive was wanted for assaulting a Florida State Trooper with a firearm. Information was developed that the fugitive and others with him were using a black van with Michigan registration plates and a green van with Massachusetts registration plates. At approximately 8:55 P.M, Officer Crossman and Williams observed the vehicles matching the description on Platt Hill Road, near Crystal Lake and Route 263. Officer Crossman and Williams stopped the two vans and relayed the information to the command post. Officer Crossman and Williams conducted a high risk felony stop utilizing their vehicles as cover. Troopers from the Connecticut State Police arrived as backup and the two female occupants, who were known accomplices of the fugitive, were taken into custody. Information gathered from these two female accomplices ultimately led to the apprehension of the wanted fugitive in a residence of an apartment complex a short distance away.

Medal for Outstanding Service

The Division Medal for Outstanding Service or Achievement is awarded for successful performance of an extremely complex or difficult investigation; the demonstration of exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person; outstanding service to the public or the agency; or to an officer who continuously achieves excellence in the performance of his or her duties over an extended time period.

Officer Harold Lindo
Hometown: East Haddam
District: Eastern
Date of Hire: 11/01/1994

On December 14, 2010 at 1:18 PM Officer Lindo was dispatched to Devils Hopyard to assist in a search for a suicidal male. The Connecticut State Police, Troop K in Colchester received the original call and notified DEP. The caller stated he was going to harm himself by jumping from a cliff located in Devils Hopyard.  Troop K triangulated the cell phone signal and identified the area as a cliff on the back side of Devils Hopyard. Using local knowledge of the area, Officer Lindo responded to Jones Hill Rd. Officer Lindo hiked approximately a half mile into the woods and located the subject standing on the edge of the cliff. Officer Lindo was able to talk the subject away from the edge of the cliff and take him into protective custody until other officers arrived. The subject was escorted out of the woods and transported to Middlesex Hospital for observation.

Officer Erin Crossman
Hometown: Norfolk
District: Western
Date of Hire: 10/14/2005

On December 22, 2010, Officer Crossman was on patrol in the town of Torrington. While traveling on Route 8, Officer Crossman heard State Police dispatch troopers to an accident on Route 8 in the area of exit 46. Officer Crossman responded to the area, discovered a vehicle had struck the Greenwoods Road overpass and the male occupant was severely injured. Officer Crossman contacted State Police Troop B advised them of her location and immediately began CPR on the driver. Officer Crossman continued CPR with the help of a Trooper until EMS personnel arrived. Unfortunately, the driverís injuries were so severe he did not survive.

Officer Greg Ulkus
Hometown: Vernon
District: Marine|
Date of Hire: 04/09/2010

On February 18, 2011, Officer Greg Ulkus was on Patrol in the Rocky Hill area when he heard a radio call for an unconscious individual in a vehicle on Interstate 91. Officer Ulkus was the first responder on scene and found a 44 year old male unconscious in the driver seat of the vehicle. Officer Ulkus began administering CPR and was later assisted by a Rocky Hill Police Officer. An Automated External Defibrillator device indicated no external intervention could be given, so both officers continued CPR until the arrival of local EMS personnel. It was later learned that the victim had not survived. Officer Ulkus made a valiant attempt to save the victimís life under very stressful conditions.

Special Conservation Officer John Lambert
Hometown: East Lyme
District: Marine
Date of Hire: May 2008

On September 24, 2010 Special Conservation Officer John Lambert was patrolling Rocky Neck State Park. Officer Lambert was closing the beach area when he noticed an unoccupied vehicle parked in the parking lot. Officer Lambert began to search the beach area on foot in heavy fog conditions. Officer Lambert found an unconscious female victim lying on a boardwalk bench and immediately radioed dispatch for EMS assistance. Officer Lambert monitored the victims breathing and pulse while waiting for assistance to arrive. He also noticed several prescription containers in the victimís purse and relayed the information to EMS personnel. The female victim was a missing person and possible suicide risk from Windsor, Connecticut.

Boating Officer of the Year Award

The Boating Enforcement Officer of the year awards is presented annually to an officer of the Division whose efforts in boating safety and boating safety enforcement are deemed to have contributed significantly to the safety of recreational boaters in Connecticut.

Officer Paul Hilli
Hometown: Goshen
District: Western
Date of Hire: 04/01/1994

Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Paul Hilli has been a member of the DEPís Boating Accident Reconstruction Unit (BARU) since its inception in 1998. Officer Hill is involved with every major BARU event that involves serious physical injury or death. In the last several years he was involved in investigating fourteen boating related deaths that occurred on Connecticut waterways. In one case EPO Hilli assisted the FBI with a teenager that went missing from a canoe. The disappearance of the teenager was ruled suspicious at the time. This case was then solved and the incident was ruled a drowning. Another high profile case involved a double fatality that involved a Bass Boat and Pleasure craft. Both vessels sustained heavy damage from the crash. This case took hours of methodical investigative work. The investigation revealed contributing factors lied with the pleasure craft that included alcohol, speed, and failure to follow rules of the road.

Officer Hilli has a drive and passion for investigative work and is a consummate professional. EPO Hilli is often sought out by his peers looking for guidance with BARU cases, and continues to seek out training opportunities. He is a valuable member to the DEPís EnCon Police.

Conservation Officer of the Year

The Conservation Enforcement Officer of the year award is presented annually to an officer of the Division who has exhibited throughout the year, exemplary and enthusiastic performance in their efforts to protect our natural resources and to provide for the safety of the public through enforcement, public education and outreach and in the advancement of our state wildlife and fisheries conservation programs. Each year one officer from each District is nominated for this award by the supervisors of the District. The officer to receive the award is then selected from those nominated through a vote of the field officers of the Division.

Officer Stephen Stanko
Hometown: East Hampton
District: Marine
Date of Hire: 02/16/2007

Environmental Conservation Police Officer Stephen Stanko has been a member of the Connecticut Division of State Environmental Conservation Police since February 2007, recently taking assignment in the Marine District following his early years in the Western District. A veteran police officer who previously served with both the East Hampton and Middletown police departments, Officer Stanko has always shown high enthusiasm in his job. His extensive police background and willingness to learn new tasks and procedures have helped him complete many types and complexities of marine cases, as well as having one of the highest case loads in the Marine District.

Already well-versed in police investigative procedures, Officer Stanko had several opportunities to use these skills in various criminal investigations at Hammonasset Beach State Park. In June 2010, Officer Stanko was tasked with the investigation of a considerable amount of missing money from the ticket gates at Hammonasset. Drawing on previous experience while using newly learned techniques, he incorporated and used the expertise of other officers and park personnel, effectively used surveillance equipment loaned by another agency, developed suspects, and gained direct confessions leading to three felony arrests for the larceny of several thousand dollars of park entrance fees.

Officer Stankoís work ethics, passion for the job, knowledge and experience have gained him the respect of both his peers and the public for which he works. He continues to prove himself to be a valuable asset to the Marine District, the Division of Environmental Conservation Police, and to the citizens and natural resources of Connecticut.

Unit Citation

A Unit Citation may be awarded to recognize exceptional collective effort by members of a district, sector or special unit. A unit citation certificate will be presented to the district commander, or sector or special unit supervisor who will display it at the command facility or at any appropriate place. A copy of the award citation shall be placed in each officerís personnel file.

Unit Citation: Western District

On April 5, 2010 information was developed by the United States Marshalís Service that a fugitive wanted for assaulting a Florida State Trooper with a firearm was suspected to be in the Winsted Connecticut area. Original information indicated that the fugitive may have been in the DEP owned Mad River Flood Control area of Algonquin State Forest. Officer Begley and the Winsted Police Department checked the area that evening with negative results. On April 6, 2010, additional information was developed by the US Marshalís and Connecticut State Police that the suspect may be in a wooded area north of Route 44 in Winsted. The area involved consisted of rough terrain and is heavily wooded. A command post was established and EnCon Police officers were involved in the manhunt for the fugitive. Sgt. Keith Schneider and Shaw were assigned to the command post, Sgt. Matt Tomassone as an observer on Trooper one helicopter, Officer Hilli, Crossman, Williams, Yescott and Begley were assigned to search positions in the field. Officer Crossman and Williams stopped two vehicles in the area of Crystal Lake, Route 263 that were believed to be associated with the fugitive. The two female occupants of the vehicles later revealed the location of the fugitive to the task force. The information obtained by the officers from the two female accomplices lead to a search warrant being obtained and executed at a residence on the southeast side of Highland Lake and the fugitive was successfully captured.