Detroit cracking down on illegal dumpers

Christine Ferretti, and Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city announced a program Wednesday to crack down on illegal dumping, an effort that includes hidden cameras at some sites to curb the more than 600 tons of debris collected each week, said Mayor Mike Duggan .

Unofficially, the city in the past two months have been testing three sites in Brightmoor, northwest and southwest, and have identified 37 dumpers.

“(As of Wednesday), we have convicted 22 of them and three more are in the process of being convicted,” Duggan said Wednesday at a news conference at the public safety headquarters to announce the initiative. “We plan to have 15 more sites by the end of the month.”

Two-thirds of offenders are driving into the city from the suburbs, said the mayor.

“When you see someone come from Royal Oak to dump, they wouldn’t dream of dumping in Royal Oak and you’ll see them feel the same way about Detroit soon,” Duggan said.

The Police Department has picked the top 15 dumping sites to install their second batch of cameras. The cost of the cameras, which record day and night, is about $75,000, including the monthly cost of $54 for electricity and internet access for each. Duggan said the Police Department has had a 76 percent success rate of catching and prosecuting dumpers with the help of nighttime vision cameras.

The program is expected to incorporate 70 hidden cameras at repeat dumping sites, Duggan said. Each week, the city’s Department of Public Works removes more than 600 tons of debris illegally dumped across Detroit each week, he said.

Craig said offenders caught on the hidden cameras will face a maximum penalty of a $1,500 fine, 90 days in jail and seizure of their vehicle.

“If you come into this town and dump, there’s a good chance we’re going to take your vehicle and you’re going to walk home,” Craig said. “This is another program that will work like Green Light. We’ve seen less robberies because of the light initiative, and we will see less dumping, too.”

“We’re regularly getting nighttime dumpers just fine and it won’t just be our cameras, we see this as an opportunity for the community to get involved,” he said.

Duggan said a new feature on the city’s Improve Detroit App will allow residents to report illegal dumpers and upload photographs or video of the act in progress, which will be transmitted to the Detroit Police Department.

Jonathan Pommerville said he has caught dumpers in his neighborhood on camera for two years and said fighting blight is a constant struggle.

“It’s overwhelming and before you know it, it’s coming back,” he said. “We can get the Department of Neighborhoods to come and help us clean things up but we’re not actually going after these people.” .

A Police Department anonymous tip hotline is available at (313) 235-4359 .