Beacon Falls turns up police presence at parks

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Police in Beacon Falls are increasing their patrols of the town’s parks in response to vandalism. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — Police are increasing their patrols of parks as the town seeks to combat a rash of vandalism.

“We are going to step up police patrols,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

According to the minutes from the Parks and Recreation Commission’s August meeting, commission Chair Joe Rodorigo said there has been ongoing vandalism at the town’s parks. The vandalism has included overturning Port-O-Lets, spray painting graffiti, and broken bottles, according to the minutes. Rodorigo could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

Smith said vandalism has been a problem at all of the town’s parks. In response, he said, police will be increasing patrols in the parks and more strongly enforcing park rules such as ensuring people leave when the parks close.

According to the meeting minutes, Rodorigo said the town is also looking into putting surveillance cameras in the parking lots of parks as well to help curb the vandalism and track what cars are at the parks.

Smith said currently there is no money in the budget to buy cameras. Right now, he said, the town is focusing its efforts on increasing police patrols.

“An increased police presence is our first step,” Smith said.

Town parks haven’t been the only target of vandals over the past year. Laurel Ledge Elementary School was the site of persistent vandalism over the later half of last year. The playscape in the back field of the school was broken on occasion and often used as a canvas for graffiti. Vandals also climbed onto the school and ripped shingles off of the roof in one incident.

Region 16 school officials discussed the issue for several months last year before deciding to install surveillance cameras around the school. The cameras, which were installed earlier this year, have proven to be successful in curbing the vandalism at the school, according to Superintendent of Schools Tim James.

James said since the cameras were installed the incidents of vandalism have significantly decreased at Laurel Ledge. He attributed the decline in vandalism to the cameras, saying the district took no other measures to fight the vandalism. Installing the cameras, he said, was the only variable that changed in the situation.

“Since they were installed, since the very beginning, the number of incidents has gone down for us,” James said.