(DETROIT, MI) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig are sending a strong message to anyone who illegally dumps debris in city neighborhoods. The police are watching.
Each week, workers from the city’s Department of Public Works remove more than 500 tons of illegally dumped material across the city. To address the problem at its roots, police have been testing hidden cameras in a number of locations where dumping repeatedly reappears after city crews clean them up.
During that time, DPD has identified alleged illegal dumpers in 25 cases, based on the strength of the video images.
One of them is Leo Tolin, of Detroit, who was captured on video dumping in northwest Detroit on August 26. After being identified based on video evidence, a warrant was issued and he was arrested by police.
Investigators, armed with a search warrant, also seized Tolin’s 16-foot white box truck, from which he dumped a large box and other debris. Once Tolin, who is the owner of Price is Right movers, pays $1,560 in blight violations, or posts a $1,500 bond, he will be able to have his truck returned.
“For too long, people have used our neighborhoods as dumping grounds because they could get away with it,” said Duggan. “With a lot of things that used to be tolerated in this town, like illegal graffiti, we’re not tolerating people who want to dump in our neighborhoods anymore. We are going to charge them and whenever we can we are going to use existing laws to seize the vehicle they used in this criminal activity.”
The city currently has more than a dozen cameras installed at frequent dumping locations around the city. By the end of September, Chief Craig said he expects to have dozens of cameras at known dumping locations, where video will be reviewed daily by staff at his Real Time Crime Center.
The total cost of the cameras is about $75,000, including the monthly cost of $54 for electricity and internet access for each camera.
“Whenever we can, we are going to use technology to our advantage,” said Craig. “We are doing it effectively with Project Green Light and with this initiative we are using video technology to conduct investigations that begin with reports of illegal dumping made to the city through the Improve Detroit app. I believe the Detroit Police Department is going to be the trendsetter for other departments around the country.”
So far, 22 individuals have been charged out of the 37 incidents captured on video. Investigators also have warrants pending for three more suspects.