SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield’s Forest Park will have increased public safety starting Sunday, April 4.

The anticipated start and end dates for the park patrols are Sunday, April 4 to Tuesday, November 30. During that time, Deputy Sheriffs will patrol Forest Park in Hampden County Sherriff’s Department marked cruisers. Two Deputy Sheriffs will be on each shift from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

“One thing that will keep people away faster than anything else is if they don’t feel safe in their surroundings, and if they don’t feel that they can get help if they need it, and if they don’t feel that someone’s watching out for them,” Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told 22News. “To come outside and enjoy a park like this is treat for all, and I want it to be enjoyed.”

In a news release sent to 22News, Mayor Sarno, Police Commissioner Clapprood, Hampden County Sheriff Cocchi and Executive Director of Parks, Recreation and Building Management partnered up to increase the safety to the visitors of Forest Park.

“I cannot thank Sheriff Cocchi enough for continuing this unique partnership.  We are so appreciative of the continued support of Sheriff Cocchi’s community based approach.”  Mayor Sarno added, “I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to labor union presidents Officer Joe Gentile and Captain Brian Keenan for their cooperative efforts in this joint venture. We have a beautiful overall park system, especially with our crown jewel, the Olmsted-designed Forest Park and we want to keep it that way, enjoyable to all families, who come from near and far.”

Covering more than 700 acres, Springfield’s Forest Park has a lot of land to cover. Deputies from the Hampden County Sherriff’s Department have been patrolling the park for the past two years.

“From being waved down by groups of kids to visiting Nino’s Pizzeria on Dickinson Street for a slice, our team loves engaging with the thousands of people who live near and visit Forest Park each year. It is a great place to relax and play, and we are honored to be entrusted to help maintain that,” Sheriff Cocchi said. “And while most everyone who stops by is respectful of the rules and each other, we will do what’s necessary when the exception arises. Working alongside the public and our partners in the Springfield Police Department, we know it’s going to be another great season in the park.”

Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood stated, “During these extraordinary times having partnerships in law enforcement is more important than ever.  Last summer the services Sheriff Cocchi and his team provided in Forest Park worked out very well for everyone and we will continue those this year.  Forest Park has always been a safe environment and this will help us maintain a high visibility approach for our residents and visitors.”

“The Springfield Parks Department is thrilled to be partnering with the Springfield Police Department and the Hampden County Sherriff’s Department. The enforcement of the parks rules and regulations ensure everyone visiting the parks has the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the park system. Over the past five year, the Springfield Parks have received over $18 million dollar investment and the park patrols will be a welcome addition to secure the beauty of our parks and be a resource to our visitors,” said Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings & Recreation Management.