MEDIA COURTHOUSE — Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced a new addition to the office Friday: The Environmental Crimes Unit.
“Delaware County is the first in the region to create a unit in the D.A.’s office devoted to environmental crime,” said Stollsteimer in a release. “As part of our ‘Smart on Crime’ strategy, we are coordinating our efforts across the county to improve accountability for environmental impacts. We’re also targeting environmental crimes throughout the region and expect to collaborate with our colleagues in neighboring counties and in Harrisburg.”
The Environmental Crime Unit will collaborate with the Department of Emergency Services, county council, and other county offices to investigate environmental hazards that threaten the health and safety of Delaware County, according to the release.
“We look forward to working with the D.A.’s office on these issues, to protect and improve the health of all our communities,” said county Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer. “The D.A.’s Environmental Crimes Unit is yet another important tool the county will have to address complicated public health and safety issues.”
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Muroff, who previously worked with nongovernmental organizations, industry and labor organizations, and community groups to advocate for progressive water policy and environmental justice, will serve as the chief of the new unit.
“Too many Delaware County residents are struggling with environmental impacts stemming from illicit business practices and violations of state environmental laws,” said Muroff. “We are going into these communities, and we are listening to residents. Our goals are to better protect Delaware County citizens and their right to a clean environment under the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”
Emergency Services Director Tim Boyce added the new unit will be a critical partner in raising awareness about environmental crimes like illegal dumping and the county is already working on strategies for responding to environmental calls.
“The joint investigative capabilities of Emergency Services and the D.A.’s office will enable us to be more proactive in addressing environmental threats before they become catastrophes,” said Boyce. “Not every case will rise to the level of criminal activity, but when it does, we’re glad to have partners in the District Attorney’s office.”