Discovery of Homeless Camp Leads Haverhill to Consider Surveillance Drones to Monitor Public Parks

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan said he was particularly concerned to find trash on the banks of Plug Pond (Lake Saltonstall). (Courtesy photograph.)

A tent in Winnekenni Park. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council likes the idea of using surveillance drones to monitor public parks and forests.

The idea was presented Tuesday night by Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan after he went for a walk at Winnekenni Park recently and discovered piles of trash left by homeless residents who had built camps there. Sullivan said the amount of trash was extensive and disturbing as some of it was left on the edge of Plug Pond.

“The story is sad and it’s also disgusting. We’re talking mounds of trash that are spewed throughout the park in a certain area close to the Plug Pond side of Winnekenni Park. It’s a tremendous mess. It’s going to have to be cleaned up and the area to be cleaned up is not easily accessible but it’s going to have to be cleaned up,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said homeless camps need to be stopped before folks get settled in, and a surveillance drone with a camera periodically monitoring those areas would be an economical way of doing so. He proposed that the city purchase a drone and do the work in house or see if there is a third-party vendor that offers that type of service.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to send a letter to the mayor asking him to look into matter as well as City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. regarding the legality of such surveillance. They also agreed to send a copy of the letter to Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro for his thoughts on how helpful a drone might be in terms of crime issues.

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