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$98,000 in fines netted during West Palm Beach's war on illegal dumping

City cracking down on violators
Palm Beach County illegal dumping sign
Posted at 4:29 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 16:49:05-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Last October, the city of West Palm Beach launched Operation Clean Streets. Since then, there's been $98,000 in fines issued, two arrests and aggressive enforcement. But the campaign is far from over.

WPTV got an exclusive look Tuesday at how the city is targeting new offenders, repeat offenders and potential violators.

West Palm Beach Department of Public Works Director Josh McDermott is against losing the city's illegal dumping war. He has more miles on his work vehicle to prove it.

"It's health and safety of the public, and it's something that we take seriously," he said.

Offenders run the gamut. Violators fined for dumping trash include furniture stores, music stores and a lot of mechanic shops.

Each day you'll find Johnny Harris and Rudy Jean, both with the city's sanitation office, tracking illegal dumping incidents and working with law enforcement.

Tattered sofa chair illegally dumped in West Palm Beach
This tattered sofa seat is among the items that was found illegally dumped in West Palm Beach.

"Our business owners know the rules and regulations and are supposed to uphold that," code enforcement officer Rudy Jean said. "They have a license and know the right from wrongs. So it's not fair for law abiding citizens to be paying for trash that a business owner is dumping at an empty lot."

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said the last year has netted 345 instances of illegal dumping, compared to only 30 incidents a year prior. James said illegal dumping hasn't increased, but the attention and enforcement has.

"We've expanded the options that are available to people to report those," James said. "Certainly, the website, but there are phone numbers that [the public] can call and we are enhancing our 822 number to make sure that people answering the phone are certainly responsive. These neighborhoods deserve a certain quality of life and, unfortunately, there are folks from outside of the neighborhoods who just felt like, literally, these people could be dumped on. And that's unfortunate and that's not something that I wanted out city to stand for."

The city has boosted the number of cameras to prosecute violators in neighborhoods known for illegal dumping to include the historic Northwest, Coleman Park and Pleasant City. But with the aggressive level of new enforcement from public works, violators could be stopped in your tracks.

"One of our code enforcement officers did walk up on somebody recently when the dumping was in place," McDermott said.

To report illegal dumping that has already occurred in West Palm Beach:

  • Or call the city's Department of Public Works at 561-822-2075 or 561-822-2222 (24 hours)

To report illegal dumping in progress in West Palm Beach:

  • Call 911. Tipsters who provide police with a photo/video of the vehicle, its tag and information about the person dumping may be eligible for a $100 reward. The tipster must provide their name and phone number to claim the reward. Information will be kept confidential. When making a report do not confront perpetrators. But provide police with dumping location to include intersections, type of materials that were dumped and try to identify the persons or company involved in the dumping activity.

For assistance on removing waste and debris contact the city's Public Works Sanitation Division at 561-822-2075 or 800-955-8771.