Effective law enforcement in the Central Pine Barrens region is essential for the protection of its beautiful natural resources. The Law Enforcement Council (LEC), established in 1994, performs this vital function.
Originally conceived as a temporary working group charged with making recommendations to the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission regarding the unique enforcement issues in the Central Pine Barrens region caused by overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions, in 1995 the LEC became a permanent entity with the goal of improving the enforcement of land use and natural resource laws through interagency cooperation.
The LEC’s membership includes representatives from all agencies within the Central Pine Barrens region which have a law enforcement or compliance function. In addition to the coordination of enforcement efforts, the LEC resolves interagency issues and seeks to improve communication in order to enhance the stewardship of the publicly-owned park and conservation lands within the region.The LEC’s membership has grown since its inception to 36 member agencies which include police departments, code enforcement, military, and other law enforcement, regulatory and security agencies within the Central Pine Barrens region. The link above identifies the member agencies.
The LEC developed a Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Handbook to serve as a field guide for officers of those law enforcement agencies which have jurisdiction in the Central Pine Barrens region. The handbook is intended to enhance the ability of officers to efficiently and effectively enforce all applicable laws while on patrol, as well as to serve as a reference source among the member agencies. In a companion program, the LEC also sponsors and conducts training programs for its member agencies to aid them in enhancing their capabilities in environmental enforcement.
In August of 2003, NYS ECL Article 57 (the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act) was amended to provide specific penalties for violations of the law, the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Commission permit conditions and related matters. The amended section is 57-0136, "Penalties and Enforcement". It provides:
- Definition of violations
- Civil penalties
- Criminal penalties
- Additional remedies
- Responsibilities for enforcement, including time frames
In late 2003, the Commission requested that the LEC create a protocol for the intake and handling of complaints of alleged land use violations. The LEC developed a Pine Barrens Land Use Complaint Investigation protocol and incident report that allows for complaints and violations to be handled on an interagency basis, regardless of which agency actually receives the initial complaint from a citizen. The protocol contains provisions for referral of complaints to the appropriate agency or agencies for investigation and resolution; tracking the progress of such complaints and maintaining interagency communications on all reports, whether the complaint ultimately proves to be founded or unfounded.
In 2004, the Commission received from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation a $175,000 donation that originated from an environmental violation settlement between the DEC and a corporation. This donation was used to establish an Environmental Benefit Fund which, with additional funds obtained from more recent environmental violation settlements, has enabled the LEC to purchase equipment such as radios, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), surveillance equipment and other resources that enhance its enforcement capabilities.
The LEC’s sharing of law enforcement information and its use of multi-agency enforcement actions to apprehend perpetrators committing environmental crimes, such as illegal ATV use, dumping of solid waste and cutting of native vegetation has led to better protection of the Central Pine Barrens region. A multi-agency task force created by the LEC to crack down on illegal ATV and other off-road vehicle use has been very successful in curbing illegal riding in the Central Pine Barrens region that causes extensive damage to trails and natural habitats.
The LEC has also played an integral role in successfully drafting and advocating for the enactment of important laws and statutory amendments that restrict illegal ATV use, strengthen enforcement penalties for illegal ATV use and prohibit illegal dumping.
Closely working with the New York Army National Guard Air unit at Islip MacArthur Airport and the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach, the LEC has worked to remove more than 80 abandoned vehicles that desecrate the Central Pine Barrens region by airlifting them out of the woods by helicopter.
For further information on the LEC, Suffolk County laws concerning ATVs and dumping, or to obtain LEC reports and other related documents on programs and accomplishments of the LEC, please visit our online document library and select the category "Law Enforcement Council". The meeting schedule and agendas for the LEC can be found in the events calendar on this website.
If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631-288-1079.