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The primary duty of OCI's investigative staff is to investigate allegations of criminal violations of Indiana's environmental protection laws, and to prepare a case for presentation to the Prosecuting Attorney who has jurisdiction over the alleged violations. In some instances these investigative efforts are directed toward the presentation of a case at the federal level. If a case is accepted for filing, or for presentation to a grand jury , by the prosecuting authority, then the OCI investigators will perform any needed follow-up investigation. Criminal violations of the majority of Indiana's environmental protection laws allow for the imposition of class D felony penalty provisions.
Since members of the OCI staff are not law enforcement officers, it is important that they work closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who assist the OCI investigators in the execution of search warrants, arrest warrants, and the research of criminal justice files.
In addition to conducting criminal investigations, the OCI investigators assist IDEM program areas in administrative and civil investigations, conduct internal investigations, and provide training for IDEM personnel.
Environmental crime investigations are usually resource intensive since they can require the specialized knowledge and experience of scientists, expert private contractors, law enforcement personnel, and legal experts. This teamwork approach can be very effective in producing a well prepared case, though the case preparation time will often be lengthier than the time needed to prepare a case involving a more traditional crime.
The Office of Criminal Investigations uses the following criteria to determine if a criminal case should be opened: