BY FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ, STAFF WRITER
The city of Edinburg is continuing its efforts cracking down on illegal dumping, which local police have described as “a huge problem” plaguing the northern part of town.
Ariel Benedict, public information officer for the Edinburg Police Department said the agency has been moving its crime watch tower to different “hot spots” with a high volume of illegal dumping being reported.
Benedict also explained that EPD Chief Cesar Torres decided to start enforcing the arrests on illegal dumping two weeks ago. Since then, the department has already made five arrests in relation to littering.
“It was last week when we announced that we were going to start arresting on class C misdemeanor tickets as well,” Benedict said. “People don’t realize that anything they dump, or any trash that they throw on the ground, they’ll be arrested.”
According to Benedict, the recent crackdown on illegal dumping has come as somewhat of a surprise to people in the community.
“So when they go by and throw trash, and they get arrested, they ask for a fine. They ask for a citation so they can pay it. But that’s what we did in the past, and obviously it wasn’t working. Now we’re just making the arrests,” Benedict said.
Since EPD announced the implementation of tighter laws, they have seen a higher volume of calls from people who want to report illegal dumping.
“We’ve always had calls on illegal dumping. People call it in all the time, but ever since we started the announcements and we posted it all over the media, our call volume on illegal dumping has increased,” Benedict said. “We’re getting tips, we’re getting photos. We’re getting pictures of the trash, not only that but photos of the suspects or vehicles involved. The people who are driving to these neighborhoods and illegal dumping don’t realize that the community is angry, and now they know what to do in trying to stop it and catch the person.”
According to Lieutenant Joel A. Morales Jr., public information officer for the McAllen Police Department, the city of McAllen has had an ordinance in place already.
Morales explained that anyone caught illegally dumping in the city of McAllen could be subject to an arrest or a citation, depending on the severity of the offense. He referenced the health and safety code 365.012, as well as a city ordinance, section 90-146, which can be found on the city’s website.
“We’ve had it a long time. Those are the laws that we use when somebody does illegal dumping,” Morales said. “Depending on what they dump and the amount, it could be just a fine or they could be subject to an arrest up to a state jail felony.”