SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield City and police officials announced enhanced public safety patrols in Forest Park.

Everyday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and Springfield Police will work together to keep everyone at the park safe. New this year, Forest Park will be patrolled by horses and you will see officers riding around on trikes.

Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said the goal is to make sure people feel safe and comfortable around law enforcement.

“The department has taken a little bit of a hit between COVID and not being able to get out, and the image of the PD and the sentiment, I want to get the officers back out and interacting. Tools like these Trek Defenders and the horses, and I’ll have a bike patrol, that’s what’s going to do it.” Superintendent Clapprood

Mayor Sarno states, “Working with Sheriff Nick Cocchi and receiving raved reviews from the public, the city will continue with this unique and innovative partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department with dedicated Forest Park patrols under the auspices of Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.  The Sheriff’s Department patrols in Forest Park started on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2022, and will continue until November 30, 2022.  Deputy Sheriffs will patrol Forest Park in Hampden County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) marked cruisers.  Shift times are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm, with two Deputy Sheriffs per shift.  The HCSD deputies will report to Superintendent Clapprood.”

“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.”

“Over the past few years, we’ve had a great time engaging with the thousands of people who live near and visit Forest Park. We’ve worked hard to be a positive presence in the park and we’ve handled potentially troublesome issues before they ballooned to become actual problems,” Sheriff Cocchi said. “Forest Park is a great place to relax and play, and we are honored to be entrusted to help maintain that, which we’ll do even better by adding our Mounted Patrol Unit of horses and therapy dogs. 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 Superintendent 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 look forward to continuing it again 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.