TARGETING ILLEGAL DUMPING
Illegal dumping is a pervasive problem throughout Cuyahoga County, but especially in the City of Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs. Tires, trash bags, construction debris and fast food bags can be found in ravines and out in the open. It is unsightly and a nuisance that impacts the quality of life, and potentially, the health of nearby residents, lowers property values, and stands in the way of economic growth. Local businesses and residents have to contend with scrap metal theft and dumping of trash and scrap tires on their property, which is costly and demoralizing. Cleanup of vacant lots and along waterways often falls upon local governments using taxpayer money. Costs can be in the millions.
In 2004, the Cuyahoga SWCD hosted a workshop for elected officials, lawyers and interested stakeholders about Environmental Crime Law Enforcement. In May 2013, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District convened city and county stakeholders to form The Cuyahoga County Environmental Crimes Task Force. The Task Force has developed a system to identify, investigate and aggressively prosecute individuals and companies that violate the environmental laws of the State of Ohio. Such felony crimes include illegal dumping of solid waste, construction debris and scrap tires; theft of scrap metal; illegal disposal of hazardous waste; and more.
The Environmental Crimes Task Force established outcomes that include:
- Increased Enforcement
- Aggressive Prosecution
- Coordination and Communication
- Environmental Law Enforcement Training-To educate local law enforcement on the elements of environmental crimes and state laws, workshops have been held for detectives, prosecutors, public health officials, judges and law directors
- Cleveland police recruits now receive environmental enforcement training in the police academy
- The Task Force also has published the Environmental Investigations Resource Guide, a training manual for law enforcement covering Ohio’s environmental laws
- Start-Up funding from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District to the County Sheriff and the Cleveland Police Department to purchase surveillance cameras, vehicles and other equipment needed for environmental enforcement.
Congratulations to the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District and the Environmental Crimes Task Force and their success to date:
- 167 Investigations
- 35 Inspections completed (included in case numbers)
- 12 search warrants have been executed
- 23 felony arrests
- 1 misdemeanor arrest
- 15 vehicle tows
- 1 MM citations
- 0 weapons recovered
- 181 felony indictments / charges
- 67 misdemeanor indictments / charges
- 6 felony convictions
- 13 misdemeanor conviction
- 89 locations have been cleaned up of either tires and/or debris
- 4 Vehicle forfeited
The Task Force continues to follow up on all felony dumping cases and conducts inspections at junk yards, scrap yards and tire shops.
If you see someone illegally dumping, please take a moment to contact the Environmental Crimes Task Force. Provide as much information as possible, including vehicle, license plate number, location and any other descriptive information—including photographs. Let’s nail these people who are profiting from our misery!
For more information, contact:
Diane Bickett, Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District
(216) 443-3714 OR (216) 701-0148
Blog author: Janine Rybka, District Administrator