DETROIT - Detroiters have been complaining for years about illegal dumping in their neighborhoods.
Now, the dumpers are being caught, arrested and made to pay some serious fines. Some have had their cars towed and a lot of times they have to pay back the city for cleaning up their mess.
To get a closer look at how police are cracking down on these dumpers, the Local 4 Defenders went on a ride-along with Lt. Rebecca McKay of the Detroit Police Department.
"It's a quality of life issue," McKay said. "It's a danger to the health and welfare of our citizens, it causes blight."
Caught on camera
McKay and her colleagues are tracking down the illegal dumpers using surveillance cameras.
"We caught him on camera dumping bags of lawn debris in the street. Only one time ... once is it, all we need," she said.
She was talking about Lee Brassfield, a man who had no idea his actions were caught on camera. He was ticketed and arrested for littering. His truck was towed away because it was used in the commission of a crime.
"So, he's gonna go to jail," said McKay.
Brassfield will have to pay his fine of up to $500, court costs, pay to get his truck back, and pay restitution for the cleanup.
Neighbors have been taking notice. Catherine McCloud is very happy to see such a crackdown.
"I really appreciate that, to clean up my community where I reside," she said.
The next stop with Lt. McKay was on Detroit's west side, where two men were spotted. Police said they are the same men who dumped mattresses and other household items two different times on the same street. Little did they know that cameras were catching their every move, and the license plate on their truck.
They are Ashraff and Mohanned Muhialdeen. They were arrested and charged with littering.
"There is a bond placed on that truck," said McKay. "And so they're going to have to pay $1,000 to get that truck out. We're trying to send a message to these people: We're not gonna tolerate it."
Detroit police have made major headway in the past year in their fight against illegal dumping. Cameras are constantly moved throughout the city to catch the dumpers.
James Clerk was caught and later charged for dumping stacks of fencing right on a city street. Surveillance video also caught a man driving down a street and throwing out clothes and purses in the middle of a neighborhood. David Hogan, 67, lives in that neighborhood.
"They dump here, they dump over there. They dump everywhere," he said.
Hogan is applauding McKay's effort to catch these guys.
"Oh I love it. Get their behind, get them," he said.
And that's exactly what McKay and her crew did with the man spotted dumping on Hogan's street. She tracked down Henry Snider, who now faces the same trouble as the other dumpers.
"It's gonna be a very expensive lesson that they're gonna learn," said McKay. "They're gonna pay with their freedom. They're gonna pay with losing their vehicle. They're gonna pay a civil fine, then they're gonna have to go to court in front of a judge and explain, in criminal court, why it was OK for them to dump in our city."
Every illegal dumping suspect in this story has pleaded guilty to charges, except Snider. He didn't show up at his court appearance and a warrant is out for his arrest.
In the past year Detroit police have issued 114 such warrants, 96 blight violations, and more than $60,000 in blight fines. Sixty-six vehicles have been seized and police have executed a 70 percent closure rate.
Notice illegal dumpers? Call the tip line
If you notice dumping going on in your neighborhood, call the Detroit police tip line at 313-235-4359.
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