Hidden cameras — some activated by movement — will be placed in Suffolk County parks to combat graffiti and illegal dumping, authorities announced Friday.
Suffolk County legislators Kara Hahn and Sarah Anker said at a news conference in Hauppauge that they supported a number of initiatives to stop illegal activity in the more than 70 parks and 46,000 acres of parkland owned by the county.
They announced a plan with the Suffolk County Police Department to work with the county parks department to install hidden and visible cameras in areas where large-scale dumping could take place.
“When people know they are being watched, it’s less likely to happen,” Hahn (D-Setauket) said Friday about illegal dumping or graffiti. “Where it is, it’s got to stop and it cannot spread any further and we are drawing a line and saying ‘No more.’ ”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said the plan was still being formalized and he could not say where the cameras would be installed or how many. Initial costs will be covered with asset forfeiture money, he said.
“These are always crimes of greed,” Sini said. “They are dumping because it is cheaper.”
The pilot camera program was among the items discussed last week at a forum Hahn held to discuss dumping problems regionally.
Hahn and Anker (D-Mount Sinai) held the news conference to press for more oversight at county parks, and asked residents to report illegal or suspicious activity. They also urged legislators to pass a bill on Tuesday sponsored by Hahn and co-sponsored by Anker that would create a parks watch program similar to a community watch program.
A hotline to report bad behavior is also being established, Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt said.
“The issue is vandalism, crime, illegal dumping — there are so many things that seem to be happening at our public parks,” Anker said. “There really needs to be more oversight.”
Last week, officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Brookhaven Town announced an investigation into small-scale dumping at Brookhaven’s Tanglewood Park in Coram. Hahn had reported the dumping after a resident called her office.
Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said he routinely has staff survey town parkland and, after Tanglewood, advised parks officials to report all large dumping cases to the police and state DEC.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) has introduced a separate bill that directs the county parks department to survey parkland for illegal dumping. It has been tabled, awaiting parks department input, and is expected to be brought up again in March.