Massachusetts State Police are challenging a district court decision not to issue criminal complaints to seven recent college graduates who allegedly trespassed at the Quabbin Reservoir. The individuals were found walking away from the reservoir in the town of Ware just after midnight on May 14th. Since September 11th 2001, State Police have had a quote “understanding” with the Eastern Hampshire District Court that trespassing in certain areas be treated as a criminal offense. spokesman John Procopio says the Quabbin Reservoir — which provides water for 2.5 million people counts as one of those places. But Procopio says the court handled the case like a standard trespassing complaint.
“The fact that they were trespassing at a critical infrastructure site should be viewed and handled differently than trespassing at a more conventional location. And certainly if it were 12:30 in the morning in a restricted area with a group of people, regardless of what walk of life they come from — we would absolutely be concerned with that.”
The individuals whose names have not been released — told police they were graduates of UMass Amherst and Smith College and studied chemical engineering. Under the court’s ruling, the complaint will be dropped if they steer clear of the law for six months — unless the judicial review state police have requested results in a new trial. Joe Favaloro – the executive director of Massachusetts Water Resources Committee Advisory Board — says if the seven students are prosecuted for trespassing, they could be charged up to three-hundred dollars each.
“Stupidity has its consequences. And the cost associated with doing the testing, the cost associated with doing the examination — tens of thousands of dollars — shouldn’t be just excused.”
Police say there was no evidence of tampering with the 378-billion gallon reservoir.