Lawmakers Push to Install Park Cameras to Curb Dumping in Suffolk County

A trip to West Hills County Park with her dog Charley is part of Pattie Taddeo's daily routine. But her routine was upended for months when illegal dumping closed parts of the park last August.

"It was horrible. I had to go all over Nassau County looking for a park," she said. 

Taddeo says illegal dumping like this should never happen again, and lawmakers are listening.

"This is not the way to treat our precious lands," said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn.

Two Suffolk County legislators are now pushing a pilot program to place cameras in some county parks. Suffolk's police commissioner is backing the plan as both a deterrent and a way to catch illegal dumpers.

"By virtue of the fact that we have a lot of open space in Suffolk County, we are vulnerable," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini.

Suffolk has 77 county parks across 46,000 acres of land, a fact the parks commissioner says dumpers big and small have exploited.

"It's cheaper than going to the dump," said Suffolk County Parks Commissioner Phil Berdolt. "They take their chances, find a spot that's accessible and empty their truck out."

That happened on a huge scale at a Brentwood park, where a number of trucks dumped toxic materials in 2013 and left the park closed to this day. Sarah Ankler, a Suffolk County legislator, says that residents and lawmakers won't stand for it anymore.

The county hopes to model its camera program after municipalities like Babylon. Its park cameras are monitored 24/7 by public safety officers, and town officials say they've made a huge difference.

But here at West Hills, parkgoer Marvin Horlick couldn't help but wonder if cameras could really work in the vast Suffolk park system.

"This park alone is tremendous," he said. "Where could you put them? It would be tough."

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