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James Spignesi Connecticut
Conservation Officer Killed In The Line Of Duty

November 20, 1998

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today is saddened by the first Conservation Enforcement Officer fatality in the line of duty. Conservation Enforcement Officer (C.O.) James Spignesi of Hampton, CT (dob 1/16/53) was fatally wounded during a hunting related shooting on Route 97 in Scotland, CT on Friday, November 20, 1998 at approximately 5:00 p.m.


Spignesi, a 21-year DEP veteran, began his career in the Department as a seasonal employee in the wildlife division moving onto wildlife biologist in the deer research program. In 1991, Spignesi became a Conservation Officer. In August of 1998, Officer Spignesi was awarded DEP's Medal for Meritorious Service for the safe recovery of a runaway youth in Natchaug State Forest. The youth was reported to be distraught and he had threatened suicide in the past. After the State Police with canine partner had completed their search, Officer Spignesi located the runaway youth hiding in a thick patch of mountain laurel. Officer Spignesi was stationed at the DEP Eastern District Headquarters in Marlborough serving the towns of Brooklyn, Chaplin, Hampton, Mansfield, Pomfret, Scotland, and Windham.

"The entire DEP family is saddened by this tragic event. Conservation Officer James Spignesi was an excellent officer who had both law enforcement and wildlife experience bring a special knowledge base and background to his job," said DEP Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque, Jr. "His recent award for meritorious service was another example of the kind of job Officer Spignesi performed on a daily basis. He will be sorely missed."

Conservation Officers are fully certified police officers who have the power to arrest statewide for both criminal and motor vehicle statutes. Conservation Officers enforce all state fish, game and conservation laws. Officers perform a variety of regular duties which include patrolling DEP field installations, recreation areas, inland water bodies and Long Island Sound; checking hunting and fishing licenses; nighttime surveillance for illegal deer jack lighting; enforcing boating laws on all navigable waters in Connecticut and Long Island Sound; and enforcing Connecticut laws regarding commercial fishing and shell fishing. Conservation Officers have a long history in the state, beginning as Game Wardens in 1867.

The criminal investigation is being handled by the Connecticut State Police.


Related Articles & Resources

Officer Down Memorial Page
James V. Spignesi, Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Wildlife Management Area Named After James V. Spignesi, Jr.

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