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The mission of the Office of Criminal Investigations is to prevent and investigate violations of California's Hazardous Waste Control Laws for the safety of the public and protection of the environment.
The Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) is staffed with sworn peace officers with the powers of arrest, search and seizure. In addition, OCI has Hazardous Substances Scientists that work together hand-in-hand with the investigators. OCI is charged primarily with investigating alleged criminal violations of the Hazardous Waste Control Law and routinely pursues a wide range of both felony and misdemeanor cases.
The most serious of these cases involve midnight dumping or other unlawful disposal of hazardous waste, transportation of hazardous waste to un-permitted facilities, and the storage or treatment of hazardous wastes that creates a danger to the public and the environment from release, fire and/or explosion. OCI investigators are also assigned to assist other Boards and Departments within the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) in the investigation of complex civil and administrative violations. Investigators also work with other State, federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, Department of Fish and Game, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) Office of Criminal Investigations, and local enforcement agencies in the development of criminal cases.
Landfill Initiative in Los Angeles County
Hazardous waste found by OCI during a Landfill Initiative
OCI coordinates multi-media environmental investigations with other Cal/EPA agencies, routinely participates with regional, State, and federal task forces, and interfaces with other enforcement and prosecutorial agencies such as the Offices of the Attorney General and United States Attorney, District Attorney’s offices and Circuit Prosecutors. In addition, OCI’s role has been expanded to include a growing responsibility for internal investigations within the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
OCI consists of 9 investigators, 12 Hazardous Substances Scientist and 3 supervisors statewide. The investigators are the only peace officers employed within the California Environmental Protection Agency. They are also the only sworn law enforcement officers in State service specially trained to investigate the most serious environmental criminal offenses posing substantial danger to the California public and environment. Enforcement resources targeted on priority areas, such as:
- Activities that pose the highest environmental risk,
- Activities or entities wit the highest incident of non-compliance,
- Chronic or recalcitrant violators,
- Identification of entities outside the current regulatory net
- Enforcement response activities that are fair and consistent,
- Rules and permits that are clear and enforceable, and
- A system that can measure enforcement activities and correlates them to compliance and enforcement results.