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How to Solve Illegal Dumping, Litter and Graffiti (IDL&G)

Message Fred Gransville

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Graffiti, garbage, broken-down cars ... man-made creations from those people who just don't care is a growing problem. Litter and graffiti blights the city's quality of life.

The trash is everywhere in the United States. An eyesore that clogs drainage systems, blocks walkways, creates health and fire hazards and that no one found a solution to the problem of illegal dumping, litter and graffiti (IDL&G).

Poverty is no excuse; trash promotes crime, negative mental images and thoughts.

States spend millions of dollars each year to clean up littered roadways, parks, and coastal areas. In addition to the direct cost of litter removal, litter also harms the environment, property values and economic activities. You can no longer go outside and enjoy nature and the beautiful public lands provided for us by state and local municipalities.

Many states have also enacted legislation to address littering in certain places, such as public highways, coastal areas, and recreational areas, but as yet have not found an effective way to stop or even discourage littering.

ILLEGAL DUMPING An Imperial County Discussion Submitted by: The Public Health Department in 2007 is an excellent summary of the impact of illegal dumping, littering and graffiti.

The problem was out of control even before COVID-19, and now we are on the path of looking like an undeveloped country. California litterbugs are the absolute worst: Roadshow, August 2020

Local ordinances and California state laws exist: Section 374.3 and VC 23111 but currently a police officer must witness the violation before he can issue a ticket, and they don't have the time or incentive to pursue the crime of IDL&G.

I was told that I can call in the information to their STTOP line, 877-310-stop or the website and they would send a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle. Unfortunately without a deputy or police officer witnessing the incident in person not much can be done.

Just about everyone has a smart phone

California needs to pass a law in the legislature that makes it legal for any citizen with a cell phone or video camera to document a witness account and report the crime of illegal dumping, litter or graffiti (IDL&G) in California.

The video would be deemed sufficient evidence to issue a citation and/or prosecute the crime under Section 374.3 of the Penal Code: it is unlawful to dump or cause to be dumped waste matter in or upon a public or private highway or road, and VC 23111: no person in any vehicle and no pedestrian shall throw or discharge from or upon any road or highway or adjoining area, public or private, any lighted or nonlighted cigarette, cigar, match, or any flaming or glowing substance.

Enforcement is the best way to get people to comply with any law, but it's impossible for police to be, or install cameras, everywhere to prevent IDL&G. Cell-phone cameras are the solution: just about everyone has a smart phone.

Cell-phone and red-light cameras

Red-light cameras have proven to discourage red-light running, cell-phones will do even more.

I adopted three miles of Las Virgenes Road in the Santa Monica Mountains and have been picking up the litter including cigarette butts, women's panties, syringes, gloves and now face masks, for over three years.

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There is a traffic light at the intersection of Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway and I tracked the cigarette butts 1 mile north and south of the intersection.

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There is generally significantly less trash and cigarette butts within the 350-foot north and south area of the intersection, which is consistent with the hypothesis that the "litter bugs" are avoiding areas that might have surveillance using "red-light" cameras to capture license plates and images of the driver at intersections.

Intersections have red-light cameras that are legal, with or without a warning sign at the intersection, so that officers of law enforcement do not have to be present on the scene while the crime is in progress.

Citizen cell-phone camera evidence, without requiring any notice, should be legal as well.

The courts have already ruled that cameras don't violate privacy, therefore cell-phone cameras will be an effective cost-effective way to catch the people who violate the IDL&G laws.

I do not recommend a cell-phone strategy as a replacement for the red-light cameras.

A cell-phone ticket based on a video evidence will be like a parking violation; nothing would go on a driving or criminal record. The penalty, a hefty fine and community service, for committing the crime would be seen as the deterrent.

The tip/reward incentive for reporting illegal dumping will remain in place; however there will be no tip/reward incentive for the public to video tape a littering or graffiti crime.

The incentive already exists to keep their neighborhoods clean so they can enjoy their life outdoors.

Communities that are littered experience other problems, such as graffiti, unkempt rights-of-way and a general decline of the physical appearance in the area. Property values in littered neighborhoods can be lowered by as much as 15 percent.

The public will want to volunteer because litter has a significant negative impact on their life.

The law must not give the public any incentive to fake or alter, or record a video while driving.

The law would define that the video capturing someone committing an IDL&G violation taken by a citizen is sufficient proof that the crime took place.

The Rocky Mountain State has Star CSP (*227) to help police officers locate and arrest drivers who are operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or committing other potentially serious crimes. Any member of the public, who witness an aggressive driver, use Star CSP on their phone to report a traffic violation or a driving-related crime without any video evidence, and the authorities hold the driver accountable for these actions.

An officer of the law, sheriffs or police, would no longer be required at the scene of the crime to issue a citation, as long as the video has: 1) a clear image of the vehicle license plate and the crime, or 2) a litter-enforcement officer issues the citation based on review of the video submitted.

The law would eliminate the expensive time-consuming investigations that have been required to successfully prosecute illegal dumping cases.

Litter-enforcement officers and 811

Litter-enforcement officers will be existing parking enforcement, and local, state and national park rangers whose duties are expanded to enforce Section 374.3 and VC 23111.

The State of California will provide subsidies and training for municipalities to hire additional parking and "park" enforcement officers, who will be trained and authorized to issue a citation based on a video taken by the public of a IDL&G violation.

The state will also develop the smart-phone app (811) that will upload their location and the video file to the litter-enforcement officer in the area.

A cell-phone ticket based on a video without vehicle license identification

When a member of the public witnesses and takes a video with their cell phone of litter or a graffiti crime, without a vehicle license plate, they dial "811" on their phone.

The officer will be dispatched to the location, get the criminal's identification and issue the citation. They will be trained to call law enforcement if there is an altercation when he asks for the id of the person who committed the IDL&G crime.

A cell-phone ticket based on a video with vehicle license identification

When a member of the public witnesses illegal dumping or litter from a vehicle, they will take a time-stamped video of the crime including the physical description of the vehicle, the license plate and the persons involved. The video with the location will be uploaded to the litter-enforcement office using the 811 application on their phone.

A cell-phone ticket based on the video will be like a parking violations, nothing goes on the driving record.

The violation goes against the registered owner of the vehicle and the registered owner will need to prove the vehicle was stolen; otherwise they are liable for all the fines and penalties and community litter pick-up service. If the vehicle was rented then the rental company will provide the driver's license of the person or the entity that filled out the rent-a-vehicle application.

There is no driving or arrest record that will be recorded; therefore the video is only proof that the crime took place and if you are the registered owner or the person who rented the vehicle then you are liable.

The public should not be liable for someone loaning their car to an associate who uses it to commit the crime. If in fact you loaned the vehicle to someone who committed the crime you are free to go after them to pay the fines and do the community clean-up service.

The penalties for illegal dumping will remain in place and the public will still be allowed to qualify for the "tip" or reward with the video.

The penalties for the violation of Section 374.3 and VC 23111 are monetary and community service (picking up litter and removing graffiti).

The responsible party shall not be required to personally do the community service but should have the option to pay an additional premium on top of the fine to allow someone else to do the work. If the responsible party does not have the funds to pay the fine then they will do additional community service to satisfy the penalty.

If lawmakers decide that the crime of illegal dumping still requires a litter-enforcement officer to issue the citation then the 811 app will be used to summon an officer to the scene to write the citation. Note Colorado does not require an officer of the law to witness the crime of reckless driving.

The new law will not only make IDL&G enforcement possible but will be a cost-effective major deterrent because when the criminals realize that anyone with a cell-phone can be documenting their crime they will re-consider if dumping, littering and graffiti are worth the price.

The law will include a PR campaign to emphasize the damage the irresponsible citizens are doing to our communities and ask for the public's support to video tape the crimes.

I have been getting positive feedback that my "citizen's-video arrest" approach will solve the illegal dumping, litter and graffiti (IDL&G) problem.

Contact me in the comments below if you believe this could be a viable solution, not just in California, but throughout the United States.

(Article changed on September 22, 2020 at 05:14)

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Fred Gransville Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I have been honing my craft as a writer since I graduated from Princeton University. I have been a newspaper reporter, a book editor and a Hollywood scriptwriter. My humor has been published in a number of publications. I have written two (more...)

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