Press Release: RETURN OF ECO JAMES DAVEY TO DUTY
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
PBA of New York State Salutes Return of ECO James Davey to duty;
Urges Action On Measure To Protect Livelihood Of Members Injured In Line-Of-Duty.
When New York State Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) James Davey returned to work on Monday, November 27, 2017, he was just two days short of an inauspicious anniversary, a gunshot wound that nearly took his life. While the story could have been much worse, ECO Davey is once again on duty enforcing New York State’s laws against poachers and polluters thanks to the quick action of his partner, Lt. Liza Bobseine, and an unwavering dedication to recovering from his injuries.
On the evening of November 29, 2016 ECO Davey and his partner were investigating a complaint of a reported trespass with shots fired in the town of Gallatin, a rural community in Columbia County, NY. While responding, the officers identified what appeared to be a fresh trail of vehicle tracks into a cornfield. The sun had set, and the officers walked into the dark field to investigate further, and ECO Davey’s life was suddenly altered forever by the reckless actions of a man who discharged a high-powered rifle illegally.
The ECO has various statewide responsibilities including the seizure of ornamental ivory originating from the senseless poaching of endangered elephants and other exotic animals, and halting the pollution of our air as well as rivers, lakes and streams that threaten our water supplies. They also play key roles in various homeland security measures such as radiation detection and maritime interdiction. However, they are best known for their role in the woods as environmental stewards, and if applying a term more accurately affixed to their 19th century predecessors -- labeled as game wardens.
In some parts of the U.S. that limited law enforcement scope remains, and the FBI reports that game wardens are nine times more likely to be assaulted in the line of duty than other police officers. It is indeed a dangerous, and potentially unforgiving assignment.
The PBA of New York State is advocating for three-quarter disability benefits for all members suffering a line-of-duty disability. Currently, because of some arcane exceptions in the state’s retirement laws, some but not all PBA members are afforded this benefit. Officer Davey, despite selflessly putting his life on the line that fateful evening, was not and still is not covered by this benefit.
“The 1,200 member PBA of New York State is proud of ECO Davey, and honors his commitment, strength and resolve,” said PBA director Jason DeAngelis. “But he is being done a disservice, because he nearly died that night and spent an entire year undergoing operations, physical therapy and other treatments. It is simply wrong after his sacrifice that the option of a viable disability benefit is not available, and he is forced back into the field.”
Currently legislation is under consideration by the state legislature to remedy this issue (Senate Bill No. 5594A / Assembly Bill 7600A) sponsored by Senator Martin Golden and Assemblyman Peter Abbate respectively. The Senate passed the bill in June, however it was not considered by the entire Assembly membership during the 2017 regular session.