The two-day training, a collaborative effort among Project EnCriPT, the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), provided free training on the history of environmental enforcement, wildlife statutes, wildlife case studies, specific tribal concerns, investigative skills, hazards and safety concerns, scene documentation, sampling and evidence collection, and much more.
Participants included tribal members from the Northwest, state natural resource agents from Montana and Wisconsin, local police departments and area prosecutors. Among the tribes represented were Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Fort Peck, Tulalip, Blackfeet, Chippewa Cree, Northern Cheyenne, and Fort Belknap.
Michael Cotter, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, kicked off the session, emphasizing the importance of improving the safety and quality of life in local communities through environmental investigations, which required the involvement of many entities. He said that this training could serve as a model for other areas of the country.
The training was led by Bert Marsden, Resident in Charge of the EPA Criminal Division in Montana, and Andrea Hoke, manager of Project EnCriPT at LEMIT. Other instructors were provided by the EPA, the U.S. DOJ, and other local experts. Following hands-on demonstrations, the class was divided into two teams and provided a case study to investigate and present.
“This type of in-person instruction proved to be a very valuable, positive experience for participants,” said Hoke.
Project EnCriPT, funded through a grant from the EPA, is a free nationwide program designed to train civil and criminal enforcement officials to protect the environment and public health. It offers online courses and in-person training opportunities to present the latest information to combat environmental crimes and compliance issues. Among the online courses offered are:
- Illegal Dumping of Hazardous Waste
- Environmental Sampling Overview
- Personal Safety for Environmental Enforcement Professionals
- How to Handle the Media
- Introduction to Environmental Investigations
- Ethics of Environmental Enforcement
- Judicial Procedure
The courses, which range from one to eight hours, can be taken at any time or are offered as part of a cohort, which allows interaction among participants and in-depth investigation of the subject matter through written papers. In-person courses, which provide both instruction and hands-on application, are offered periodically and can be customized for participating agencies.
To register for programs or find out about upcoming events and trainings, visit www.encript.org