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More Enforcement Catches Few Litterbugs

Posted March 7, 2008

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— Wake County has spent more than $4,500 on a new program to crack down on littering along area roads but has nabbed only one violator in the past month.

Since the beginning of February, 60 off-duty Wake County deputies have been patrolling 51 miles along nine area roads plagued by litter, ready to charge people with a criminal offense or hand out county civil citations for littering.

After more than 150 hours on patrol, they have issued one citation.

"I would have thought that there would have been more citations, but clearly, there are other large issues for the public safety officers," said Joe Bryan, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners.

Bryan, who supports the program, said it's too early to determine whether it works.

The county also has launched educational and cleanup initiatives to help reduce litter, but Craig Wittig, coordinator of Wake County Environmental Services, said the patrols need more time to become effective as well.

"It's a different approach. We believe enforcement can work. We just need to figure out how to do it," Wittig said.

Detective K.J. Blackwell said he takes his litter patrol seriously.

"It is a crime, and it is illegal to throw trash out," Blackwell said. "You get your presence out. People know that you are out here looking, so that deters them somewhat."

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  • buzzcub Mar 10, 2008

    Exactly how did they patrol the roads? If they sat on the side and watched traffic, they are not going to see the trash flying out garbage trucks, construction trucks, dump trucks, mobile homes, you name it. That's where the majority of the trash is coming from. Drive directly behind them on the roads sometime and watch. Shouldn't take too long. Then, of course, you have all the cigarette butts being thrown out. I see that everyday, it seems. Anything else is wind-blown from somewhere else.

  • WXYZ Mar 10, 2008

    Obviously, this is a poor use of county resources. I would bet that the majority of drivers are aware of the fact that we have had a very sucessful voluntary road cleanup program across the state for many years. We all have seen the signs and have seen people collecting the trash on weekends and placing it in those orange bags. I strongly support this program and would like to see the local and state government give it vigorous, ongoing support and acknowledgement, instead of expecting officers to cite litter bugs. Surely, the officers do not have that much free time and have better things to do while "off duty".