New Cameras Used in Battle Against Illegal Dumping

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Tuesday, Nov 9, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 PM CDT
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Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

Dallas cracks down on illegal dumping using new cameras to catch violators.

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Dallas is cracking down on illegal dumping with new high tech cameras that can catch violators in the act.

Illegal dumping is an enormous problem in Dallas. The West Dallas neighborhood where James Gallegos lives is one of the problem spots.

Gallegos said illegal dumpers bring dead animals, stolen cars, furniture and construction debris to his neighborhood, right down the street from a school where children come and go.

"So they got to go through all that smell. They see what the neighborhood looks like. What do the kids expect you know, in their near future?" Gallegos said.

"It just brings down the livability. And it’s also a considerable drain on the city’s resources," said Assistant Dallas Code Enforcement Director James Childers.

Dallas spends about a million dollars a year cleaning up illegal dumpsites.

Convicted violators face substantial fines in municipal court but prosecution requires conclusive evidence and police can not watch the entire city to catch dumpers in the act.

For the past year the city has tested motion-activated cameras that take pictures at illegal dumpsites.

The cameras work in the dark with enough clarity to see vehicle tag numbers from as much as 250 feet away.

A dozen court cases have been developed with aid of pictures from the cameras. 

So now, the city has four more of the devices on the way to be rotated around to a list of 75 dumping problem areas.

The cameras can also play a loud, recorded message when motion activated, to discourage would be dumpers from leaving their trash behind.

In some cases the devices may be posted in plain sight to serve as a deterrent instead hidden as a covert, evidence gathering tool.

Officials demonstrated one of the cameras for a Dallas City Council Committee Monday.

"I think it’s a very positive thing. I would encourage the (City) Manager’s Office to try to tie purchasing more of these with the fines that you recover," said Councilman Dave Neumann.

"If we’re going to head down this road and we’re going to have any success, which I guess we will, then we need to really push, push it, push the pedal," Neumann said.

Jose Gallegos was pleased to hear about the plan and hopes a camera will soon be posted in his neighborhood.

"That would help definitely," Gallegos said.

Fort Worth began using similar cameras to gather illegal dumping evidence about a year ago with tremendous success. 

Fort Worth officials reported about 6 arrests a year for illegal dumping before the cameras, but almost one a day afterward.
 

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