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West Palm Beach wants more people to report illegal dumping

Posted at 7:08 AM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 07:08:18-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two years after the city of West Palm Beach created "Operation Clean Streets" to stop illegal dumping, the tipline hasn't gotten much action.

Josh McDermott, the director of public works for the city, said about 38% of illegal dumping is construction and demolition waste.

Often, McDermott said, it's done by people who aren't licensed and unload their trash in a secluded alley. He said in 2022, the city spent about $1.3 million in cleanup cost.

As part of "Operation Clean Streets," the city will pay out $500 to tipsters if the information leads to an arrest of an individual. The tipster must provide a photo or video to police, as well as their name and a contact number to collect the reward. Informants could receive $100 if their tip leads to the offender receiving a citation.

McDermott said only two people have received that $500 incentive in the last two years.

Ardis Jackson, a solid waste compliance officer, believes getting the word out and educating people on how to report tips is critical. He said a lot of people don't want to report illegal dumping because they live in the communities where it is happening and don't want the blowback. He also said he's seen more instances of furniture being illegally discarded likely because of evictions.

City officials said there are about 20 surveillance cameras throughout the city to catch illegal dumpers. Soon, the city will have license plate readers to track down the culprits.

"We're going to use those license plate readers to deploy in some of our hotspots so we can use in conjunction with our cameras," McDermott said.

Since October 2019, city officials said 10 people have been arrested as a result of "Operation Clean Streets." More than 170,000 pounds of illegal dumping material has been removed .

To report illegal dumping while it's happening, call 911. The tipline is 561-822-2222.