The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recognized 10 of its Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Officers and two civilians for their exemplary work while protecting Connecticut’s environment in a ceremony on April 4, including Officer Joseph Ruggiero who lives in North Branford.
Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Dan Esty said, “Tonight’s honorees – and all of our EnCon officers – are part of an outstanding law enforcement tradition that dates back more than a century. Our officers play a unique role by performing traditional law enforcement duties as well as enforcing laws aimed at protecting this state’s natural resources and wildlife.
“The officers we are honoring tonight have gone ‘the extra mile’ to fulfill their responsibilities and the people of our state can take great pride in their service,” Esty added.
At the DEEP’s annual EnCon recognition ceremony, held this year at Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill, Commissioner Esty presented 18 awards in five categories:
- Medal for Meritorious Service: Sergeant James Wolfe of Old Lyme and Officers Joseph Ruggiero of North Branford, Keith Williams of New Hartford, Matt Stone of Old Saybrook, Tate Begley of Cornwall, Nicholas Miofsky of West Hartford and Steve Stanko of East Hampton. A Medal for Meritorious Service award bar with 2 gold stars will be permanently displayed on each officer’s uniform.
- Medal for Outstanding Service: Officers Sean Buckley of Southbury, Keith Williams of New Hartford, Steve Stanko of East Hampton, John Marvin of Coventry and Michael Ralbovsky of Beverly (Massachusetts) and Carl H. Hornbecker of Southbury. A Medal for Achievement award bar with one gold star will be permanently displayed on each officer’s uniform
- Boating Officer of the Year: Officer Steve Stanko of East Hampton
- Lifesaving Award: Sergeant Christopher Dwyer o fColumbia, Officers Steve Stanko of East Hampton and Joseph Ruggiero of North Branford
- Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award: Officer Keith Williams of New Hartford
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 Connecticut’s natural resources and wildlife.
The EnCon police are a part of the DEEP’s Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and are under the command of Colonel Kyle Overturf.
2012 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 Joseph Ruggiero
Hometown: North Branford
District: Eastern District
Date of Hire: 1994
On October 10, 2011 Officer Ruggiero established surveillance in the parking lot at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth following a series of automobile burglaries at the park and at other parks in the area. Officer Ruggiero observed two individuals break into cars in the parking lot to steal personal items from the unoccupied automobiles.
Officer Ruggiero requested assistance from another officer and both suspects were quickly apprehended. Both suspects were charged with Burglary, Larceny, Criminal Mischief and Possession of Burglary Tools. Officer Ruggiero’s initiative resulted in two arrests that ended a string of burglaries at area State Parks and the return of personal property.
The Lifesaving Award is awarded to any person saving a person’s live or making a valiant attempt to do so.
Sergeant Christopher Dwyer, Officer Joseph Ruggiero and Officer Steve Stanko
On November 11, 2011, Officers Stanko, Ruggiero and Sergeant Dwyer responded to Sleeping Giant State Park in the town of Hamden for a female who was lost in the park. A search was already underway for the lost 19-year-old female by the Hamden Police and Fire departments. Hamden Police had contact with the lost female by phone and she appeared disoriented.
Officers Stanko, Ruggiero and Sergeant Dwyer joined the search by foot on the trails and were able to locate items that were thought to be from the lost hiker. Officer Stanko and Sergeant Dwyer continued up the mountain and after climbing a rocky outcropping of the trail near the northern boundary discovered the lost female lying on the ground in a thick cover of mountain laurel.
The female appeared disoriented, suffering from hypothermia and could not stand or walk. The officers carried her for a significant amount of time to get her to medical personnel. The actions of the officers on this evening contributed to saving the life of the 19-year-old hiker.
Information courtesy of the DEEP; for a full list of honorees, see the attached press release