Career Story: Environmental Police Officer

Environmental Police Officer

Job Title: Environmental Police Officer

Type of Company: I work for the Environmental Police (a state agency), which enforces natural resource, environmental and public safety laws.

Education: Associates in Liberal Arts, Bunker Hill Community College,

Previous Experience: I was working at a shellfish hatchery when I took a civil service exam for Natural Resource Officer, which is now called Environmental Police.

Job Tasks: I work for the Environmental Police department doing environmental crime investigations. I am assigned to the Office of the Attorney General and work in a task force setting with attorneys, police officers, scientists and engineers. I find and interview witnesses, research and review documents, do surveillance and serve search warrants. I am a supervisor, and oversee all of the police investigations in the unit.

Our investigations include companies that are illegally disposing of hazardous and toxic wastes; companies that dump industrial waste causing water pollution; illegal asbestos removal and the illegal disposal of solid waste and medical waste. After we have completed the investigation, the company or person is charged in court. Often, after the company sees the evidence against it, it pleads guilty. If not, the evidence is presented before a judge or jury in court at trial. The penalties include heavy fines and jail time. Companies are required to conduct clean ups of the property they damaged or polluted.

My job requires a lot of curiosity to figure out how and what happened, and who did it. I have developed the ability to obtain a lot of information from people and documents. I have also developed good writing skills and learned a lot about chemistry. To do a good job you need to be patient and thorough.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I know the work that I am doing is protecting our environment and keeping people healthy. I have the ability to make a positive impact and help people. It is also very interesting, and rarely dull. Working in state government, I also have the opportunity to work with a lot of very dedicated people.

The worst part of my job is that since I work for the state, I often have to deal with a lack of resources in personnel and equipment. It makes the job challenging at times, doing "more with less."

Job Tips:
1. There are jobs in almost every state doing environmental crime investigations. Some investigators are police, others are scientists. I would recommend taking environmental courses such as chemistry or environmental chemistry, industrial processes, and water and wastewater treatment. In addition, I would recommend courses on criminal investigations, evidence collection and preservation, and interview and interrogation.

2. Find out what agency in your state does environmental crime investigations. Volunteer as an intern in the state agency to see if you like the work. You can make a lot of good contacts and hear about employment opportunities by volunteering.

3. If you are pursuing a job with a police department, find out if there is an entrance exam. Usually there is a list of recommended reading to prepare for the exam. There may also be a physical fitness test.

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