Patrols in Forest Park by Hampden County Sheriff’s Deputies will increase this summer following an April 16 announcement by city of Springfield and Hampden County officials. Mayor Domenic Sarno announces the increase in Forest Park patrols with Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, Police Superintendent Lawrence Akers, Park Commissioner Jennifer McQuade and Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Thomas Ashe at Forest Park on April 16.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

SPRINGFIELD — Sheriff’s deputies will continue their patrols in Forest Park this summer, increasing their presence through the park’s 735 acres through the addition of a second shift of tours via a cooperative effort with Springfield Police Department.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi and Springfield Police Superintendent Lawrence Akers joined in an April 16 announcement at the park with Mayor Domenic Sarno, Parks Commissioner Jennifer McQuade and Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Thomas Ashe.

Sarno said the partnership with Cocchi has received positive public response so deputies will again be working inside the park as the warmer temperatures move in.

“The city will continue with this unique and innovative partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department with dedicated Forest Park patrols under leadership of Police Superintendent Lawrence Akers,” Sarno said. “With an added second shift, [the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department] will be patrolling Forest Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the added second shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. in marked HCSD cruisers.”

The deputies will also be seen patrolling on foot and horseback, and with police K-9 throughout the park to increase safety and provide park visitors with a great sense of security.

Park regular Nick Cifichello of Springfield said he considers the deputies a welcome sight and he looks forward to seeing horses and dogs as part of the patrols.

“I always feel better seeing them around and seeing horses here will be pretty cool,” he said.

Springfield police officers will still patrol and respond to the park as needed but the presence of the deputies allows for continued coverage in other areas of the city.

“I cannot thank Sheriff Cocchi enough for continuing this unique partnership,” Sarno said. “We are so appreciative of the continued support of Sheriff Cocchi’s community-based approach.”

Sarno said the deputies will report to Akers and the patrol will be in effect until February 2025.

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