Detroit cracks down on dumpers with hidden cameras

- Detroit city leaders have a plan to catch and prosecute illegal dumpers by setting up hidden cameras to catch them red-handed.

It's one of the biggest issues plaguing the city trying to come back but the city is trying to stop that. The Brightmoore areas is one of many known for illegal dumping in Detroit. It's costing the city between $3 and $4 million a year to clean up the trash and debris over and over. Perhaps taking some inspiration from the successful Project Green Light, the city is setting up hidden cameras to crack down on the dumpers.

The Brightmoore areas is one of many known for illegal dumping in Detroit. It's costing the city between $3 and $4 million a year to clean up the trash and debris over and over. Perhaps taking some inspiration from the successful Project Green Light, the city is setting up hidden cameras to crack down on the dumpers.

Jonathan Pommerville has been doing his part for years. Earlier this year, he captured two dumpers who came in from the suburbs and tried to dump trash illegally. When he confronted them and told them he was calling the police, they cried.

"Our goal is to make sure that people who are dumping like this in our neighborhood are found out," he said. "These cameras are going to go a long way to find out who is doing this and hold them to task."

Now he's not alone. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the DPD are working on a strategy to help catch the illegal dumpers in the act through hidden cameras. They've already set up three over the past 90 days and plan to have 15 up and running by the end of September.

City leaders tell us the results have been impressive.

"We have identified 37 illegal dumpers, 22 have already been convicted, three more are in process, and that came from just the first three camera sites," Duggan said.

As Pommerville learned, the majority of people dumping in northwest and southwest Detroit aren't from the city, according to the mayor.

"Two thirds of the people we've arrested so far are from the suburbs. There are clearly people who have businesses who are hauling debris, trash away, sometimes charging people, and instead of taking it to the landfill as they should, they're taking it to vacant lots in Detroit," Duggan said.

The dumping strains the city financially, strains the leadership, and strains the community organizations trying to do their part.

"It's very discouraging when you see that you clean up somewhere, and a couple of months later, and it's right back to the same way," said James Ngare with O'Hair Park Community Association

Like Project Green Light, the cameras capture clear video from different angles. Unlike Project Green Light, you won't see any bright green lights indicating that you're being watched.

"We can capture the images of people driving in and out, license plates, make and model of the car," Duggan said.

Chief James Craig says the effort won't completely end violent crime - but it does help.

"What attracts violent crime, is sometimes those little things. So if you live in an area where blight is accumulating, what happens, crime is coming if it's not already there," he said.

"You can also upload videos from your smart phone to the Improve Detroit app if you spot illegal dumping. Anyone who is captured for this misdemeanor will have to likely play fines, face time in jail, and have their vehicles seized.

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