Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney announced on December 15 his “Evergreen Initiative” – a combined legislative and law enforcement agenda that aims to halt devastating pollution and dumping at the county’s parks, beaches, and forests.
Joined by County Executive-Elect Ed Romaine, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr., Crime Stoppers President Patrick Fazio, Brookhaven Supervisor-Elect Dan Panico, and Winter Brothers owner Jim Winters, as well as leadership from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Pine Barrens Commission, the State Police, the Suffolk Park Rangers, Tierney outlined a multi-point plan to turn the tide on environmental assault. The Evergreen Initiative will:
1. Raise and sustain awareness of rewards available to citizens who report dumping and pollution under current Suffolk County Law, as well as posting reward signage
2. Encourage more reporting of environmental crimes by increasing the rewards for tips to 33% of the fines collected by the DA through the criminal justice process
3. Increase the fine schedule for dumping/polluting on county land to $15,000 for individuals, with corporate fines reaching $25,000
4. Encourage municipalities to mirror the county fine schedule, so that town and village parks are equally protected
5. Invest an additional $10,000 into environmentally-friendly covert surveillance equipment and deploy the trip-alert system throughout county parklands
6. Coordinate with Crime Stoppers and the Suffolk County Parks Watch reporting systems to facilitate easier reporting
7. Seize and impound all vehicles that are utilized to dump or otherwise pollute public lands
8. Ensure that fines and clean-up money are used locally in Suffolk County
9. Putting offenders to work cleaning Suffolk parks and beaches as part of their sentences
10. Seek maximum financial penalties on all environmental cases
The combination of increasing fine schedules and reward percentage will mean that a Good Samaritan report of dumping can receive up to $8,250 from fines and up to $5,000 from Crime
Stoppers. Tierney also emphasized that the statute of limitations on certain dumping crimes can reach back to 2018 and reports leading to convictions are always welcome and will be rewarded in accordance with the law. As part of the Evergeen Initiative, the increased rewards for reporting dumping and pollution will be posted on the public entrance of every county park.
“I am confident that these measures will make an impact,” Tierney said. “Our office will continue to seek maximum financial penalties, which will translate to higher rewards for those who report polluters. All local municipal leaders are encouraged to adopt similar local legislation at the town and village level so that our incentives do not redirect the illegal dumping to your parks. We all must work together so that Suffolk’s natural beauty is universally protected.”
According to County Executive-elect Ed Romaine, the Town of Brookhaven conducted more than 750 cleanups along the town roads and 32 other cleanups, which required heavy equipment for illegal dumping. Some of the debris found included boats, campers, residential waste and floating docks.
“The new Evergreen Initiative will be an important tool in curbing illegal dumping and protecting our environment,” Romaine said. “I want to thank District Attorney Tierney for his leadership on this issue to protect our open space, our groundwater and our residents from the impacts of illegal dumping.”
For the past 30 years, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has patrolled the Central Pine Barrens region, according to Sheriff Errol Toulon. Some of the debris included paperwork, yard debris, furniture, mattresses and boats. He said illegal dumping in the pine barrens is “lazy, illegal and harmful to our environment and our island’s resources. Make no mistake, if you are dumping illegally in Suffolk County, especially in our pine barrens, we will find you and you will be held accountable.”
“Illegal dumping is selfish and irresponsible and has a negative impact on our environment and our communities,” New York State Police – Troop “L” Long Island – Troop Commander
Major Stephen J. Udice added.
“D.A. Tierney’s Evergreen Initiative, supported by County Executive-elect Romaine, Sheriff Toulon, and other elected officials, provides a new dimension of deterrent to tackling illegal dumping in Suffolk County Parklands and the Pine Barrens Region,” said Chief of the Suffolk County Parks Rangers Steve Laton. “Suffolk County Park Rangers remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to thwart illegal dumping in Suffolk County.”
Jimmy Winters, Owner of Winter Bros., also praised Tierney’s latest initiative. “The actions announced by him today will help disincentivize the dumping of harmful materials in our ecosystem and hold criminal actors accountable.”
Crime Stoppers President Patrick Fazio urged those who witness illegal dumping or other dumping may call 1-800-220-TIPS and receive up to $5,000 for their
In addition to increasing fines, rewards, and signage, Tierney’s Evergreen Initiative will allocate more than $10,000 worth of additional environmentally friendly covert surveillance equipment, such as cameras, drones, and license plate readers, to undisclosed parklands to catch those who pollute in the act. The fines collected will be kept locally and used to cover all costs of prosecution. In addition, offenders will be put to work cleaning Suffolk County beaches and trails, planting trees, sorting recycling, and contributing efforts to the county’s environmental organizations. Through the Evergreen Initiative, an economy will be created that works for Suffolk County’s local ecosystem.
Another component of Tierney’s Evergreen Initiative will partner his office’s Biological, Environmental, and Animal Safety Team (BEAST) Unit and Asset Forfeiture Bureau with local police departments to penalize those who are caught in the commission of an environmental crime by having their vehicles impounded and held until all fines are paid off – including the cost of clean-up.
To report pollution, individuals may use any of the following (in an emergency or to report a crime in progress always dial 911):
- Suffolk County Parks Watch: RID@SuffolkCountyNY.gov or 631-854-1423
- The Suffolk County Pine Barrens Complaint Line 877-BARRENS
- Crime Stoppers: 1-800-220-TIPS or www.p3tips.com or download app at P3Tips
- Suffolk County DA: suffolkcountyny.gov/da/contact-us (Report Pollution tab). The District Attorney will track all reports that lead to convictions so that appropriate rewards