When Al Torbert took over as Bay Minette police chief, he identified some areas of town he’d like to see cleaned up.
“We were just having a lot of calls for random shootings, drag racing and things that go on with drug dealing and partying,” Torbert said.
In the past few weeks, a new problem has cropped up and Torbert said some of the same techniques are helping eliminate illegal dumping along city streets.
“There’s one area where we just had repeated problems,” Torbert said. “The guys would go out there one day and pick it up, and before nightfall someone will have dumped several loads of trash out there again.”
Cameras helped quell the drug trade and other illegal activities in other parts of town, so Bay Minette decided to put them to work again.
“Them knowing we’ve already used cameras and things like that in certain areas to help with the drug problems and the loitering have helped,” Torbert said. “Once the word got out, we put cameras out in that area; they haven’t put anything else out there.”
Although no arrests have been made, the police are looking into one case where someone was identified in the debris at an illegal dump site.
“They’re still working on one case that had some documents in it and they are trying to track that person down,” Torbert said. “They are not from the Bay Minette area, so they’re trying to make sure if he was a renter here or moved out of a location and somebody cleaned it out for them and dumped it out there, or if he’s responsible for it.”
A minimum fine of $250 is levied for the first offense and the fine for second or more convictions is $500.
Torbert said just having the trash along the roadways sends the wrong message.
“We started trying to tackle this issue because if you’ve got a trashy neighbor, then, guess what? The trashy people are going to go hang out there,” Torbert said. “We’re trying to make it look better because a lot of good people live in these areas that get taken advantage of by these young guys who want to come in and try to take the neighborhoods over.”
At first, citizens began noticing the dumps and reporting them to police. Then city crews began to notice they were constantly cleaning the same areas over and over.
“Out of sight, out of mind is often the mindset of people who dump waste illegally, but that’s far from reality,” Torbert said. “Cleaning up, monitoring and enforcing instances of illegal dumping costs taxpayers a significant amount of money each year. The time, resources and equipment used is a significant impact on our budget.”
Dump sites can attract rats and other vermin, city officials said, clog stormwater drainage systems during heavy rains and could possibly cause residential flooding. Police are asking citizens to call 251-580-2559 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if they spot someone illegally dumping trash.
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