City councilmembers question whether 3-person task force is enough to fight illegal dumping

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 8:59 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Many Cleveland City councilmembers are fed up with illegal dumping in their neighborhoods.

They sounded off about the problem at Wednesday’s public safety committee meeting.

Residents are asking the city to take more action too.

More funding is now on its way to clean up illegal dumping, but councilmembers are questioning whether a 3-person task force is enough to tackle the growing problem.

About $19,000 is headed to the joint city-county Environmental Crimes Task Force for training and equipment to fight illegal dumping.

“The city of Cleveland overall has become a dump ground,” said Councilmember Joe Jones, who represents Ward 1.

“As fast as we can clean up one section, they’re dumping debris in another section,” Jones said.

The Environmental Crimes Task Force is made up of a Cleveland Police sergeant and detective and a Cuyahoga County sheriff’s deputy.

They said they’re trying to get another police officer on staff and pointed to the progress they made last year in cleanup.

In 2020, the Environmental Crimes Task Force reported it had 171 investigations, 159 cleanups and 15 felony indictments.

They also have about 15 trail cameras set up in illegal dumping hotspots that record by motion and three live cameras being monitored.

Councilmembers repeatedly asked public safety officers if they have enough people on the task force.

“The numbers are sufficient, obviously if I could get more I would, but the officers assigned, specifically Sgt. West now, if he needs additional resources all he has to do is request it,” said Deputy Chief Wayne Drummond with Cleveland Police.

The task force works with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to identify illegal dumping hotspots.

They said as they find out about more areas of concern from councilmembers, they’ll try to place more cameras.

Open dumping is a felony crime in Ohio.

It is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and a jail sentence of two to four years.

Cleveland residents can report open dumping to 216-664-DUMP or by calling 3-1-1.

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