Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dumbfounded by Dumping

While I was out grabbing photos for my last couple of posts, I saw that one of my neighbors had left a large pile of rubbish out in front of their house. From the looks of it, it couldn't have been out for very long because there wasn't much snow on top of it - and it had just snowed recently. I snapped a quick photo of it, almost on a whim.

There's a city ordinance in Detroit that prohibits leaving trash like this out more than 24 hours before the next scheduled pick-up. However, that ordinance isn't enforced with anywhere near the kind of regularity that it should receive.

As I continued on my way, I started noticing more and more piles of trash throughout the neighborhood.

I wasn't really even looking for piles of trash in Warrendale, but I kept finding them. It seemed like once I noticed one - my eyes were opened to all of the other ones that were there.

Without really even trying, I photographed more than a dozen homes that had very large piles of trash in front of them - all in violation of the city ordinance. I even noticed one young woman who was carrying a large pile of debris out from her home and just casual dumped it in front of her home - like it meant nothing at all.

With this much dumping going on, I find it hard to believe that the City was even bothering to enforce its own ordinance in this area.

I know that there have been lots of budget cuts. I know also that these cuts have placed an additional burden on remaining city services. However, I can't accept that this means we should have to put up with so much dumping going on.

As I continued on, I thought about the damage that this dumping does to the community. It's a potential health and safety hazard for the children who play in the neighborhood. It's an eyesore. It damages property values. When one family moves out, it discourages others from moving in; creating abandoned homes and all of the problems that stem from that.

I also kept thinking about the fines that the city ordinance imposes on those who violate it.

If we were to take one or two of those recently laid-off police officers and assign them to ticket quality of life issues like this, the revenue from fines who more than enough to cover his or her salary. If my memory serves me correctly, the fine for dumping in Detroit is $500.

I found a dozen violators in Warrendale in under an hour. That's $6,000 in potential revenue in such a short time period.

Granted, if a police officer were doing this, there would be all kinds of paper work that he or she would have to process in order to levy such a fine. He or she would also have to appear in a court, if the violator contested the charge.

But even if a re-hired officer spent 2 or 3 days a week dealing with issues like this, it would generate more than enough in fines to cover his or her salary. More importantly, it would make the quality of life a lot better in Warrendale and the other Detroit neighborhoods.

As for the rest of that officer's week, he or she could then do convential police work. The kind of stuff that people expect when they call 9-1-1, but doesn't happen because we don't have enough police officers on the job.

It's a win-win for everyone involved.

Well, make that, it's a win-win for everyone except the folks who routinely break the law.

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