A Brief History of Conservation Law Enforcement In Connecticut
The predecessor of Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police Officer first saw the light of day on June 21, 1869. On that date the following bill was adopted into law:
"That the selectman of the several towns of the state may designate two persons in each town to be fish wardens whose duty it shall be to assist the fish commissioners in prosecution of offenses against the fisheries laws of the state, which fish wardens shall receive a suitable compensation from the treasury of each town"
The progression from the Fish Warden of 1869 to the Environmental Conservation Police Officer of today follows the organizational and statutory changes that have taken place over the years. The most significant of these are listed below:
1869 - Two Fish Wardens in a town may be designated by the selectman.
1889 - The County Commissioner of each county shall appoint one person in such county as Fish Warden. Said Fish Warden may deputize another person to assist. The county commissioner of each county shall appoint one person to act in such county as Game Warden. Said Game Warden may deputize another person to assist.
1893 - The Fish Commissioners may appoint special deputies, not to exceed three in number, and such deputies shall perform in any county in this state.
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. (This change in law established the Commissioner of Fish and Game and the beginning of the state appointed game wardens, which continue in the form of the Conservation Police Officer today.)
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 (D.E.P.) 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 D.E.P. 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.