West Springfield Police cracking down on illegal dumping at Bear Hole

The police and the West Springfield Department of Public Works are using trail cameras to crack down on the crime.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:03 PM EST
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The West Springfield Police Department is cracking down on illegal dumping at a local reservoir by using trail cameras to catch the culprits.

Illegal dumping and littering are two problems that can be found at the Bear Hole Reservoir. Now, the police and the West Springfield Department of Public Works are using trail cameras to crack down on the crime.

Todd Skeglinski with the West Springfield Environmental Committee told Western Mass News that the roughly 1,400 acres of conservation land is hard to cover with just manpower. He said that since adding the cameras, they have been able to successfully catch people illegally dumping, drinking, and driving ATVs on the conservation.

“They’ve been used for years at various levels,” Skeglinski said. “The town doesn’t always have the manpower to get into the guts of a place like that, so they’ll come to us every once in a while and say, ‘Hey, we’re having an issue. Would you mind putting out some of the environmental committees’ trail cams?’ And they collaborate with us on the images that we get.”

It seems that their initiative is working. In a statement sent to Western Mass News, Sgt. Joe LaFrance with the West Springfield Police Department said in part, quote:

“We have seen a steady decline in incidents of illegal dumping and hunting over the last 6-8 years, mostly due to the addition of Trail Cameras and regular inspections of Bear Hole from members of the West Springfield Environmental Committee.”

Steglinski added that the reservoir’s most recent case of illegal dumping caught the suspects in a matter of days due to them being caught on camera.

“They’re in and out quick and it can happen at any time of the day, like the one that just happened about a week ago,” he said. “I’ve seen the video, and they’re in and out in a minute.”

Steglinksi said that the collaboration from law enforcement, the city, and the environmental committee has allowed them to more effectively catch suspects on the conservation grounds.

“It’s an evolving thing, and you have people like myself and like yourself, the guy next door. They’re out there riding their bike, out trail running, and they’re also acting as eyes and ears and they report stuff, too,” he said. “They take pictures, they take video. It’s a very involved, very embedded community collaborative approach.”

The DPW has reported that about six trail cameras were stolen in the last year or so.

They are looking to purchase updated equipment that would allow the DPW to know and see when a trail camera is being stolen or vandalized.