Saginaw using trail cameras to go after illegal dumpers

Saginaw Community Police Officer Ervin Ward surveys a pile of trash dumped illegally along Phelan Street on the city's east side.
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SAGINAW (WJRT) (10/11/2017) - Saginaw is trying a new tactic in stopping illegal dumping in the city.

Five locations seem to be popular spots to dump garbage, everything from mattresses to old tires. But now there is something else in those locations -- cameras.

"This location is approaching a landfill-type appearance," said John Stemple, Saginaw's chief building inspector, looking at a stretch of Phelon Street on the city's east side..

Plenty of abandoned homes and businesses have been demolished along Phelon Street in recent years to clean up the neighborhood. It works for awhile, but then the blight returns.

"We clean them up and we go back the next week and there is more debris that has been deposited," Stemple said.

Fed up with the situation, the city is placing trail cameras in five locations around the city where the dumping is the worst, including the Phelon Street area.

"Get these photographs as soon as they are taken and that will give us a heads up when its going on and we will respond," Stemple said.

Community Police Officer Ervin Ward is calling on residents to take a stand against the illegal dumping, as well.

"It's time for people in the community to start taking responsibility in cleaning this up," he said. "Quite frankly, its disgusting."

Not only will the cameras give police and city staff the heads up on possible suspects, but detectives have been assigned to go through the trash to see who it belongs to.

"We are actively pursuing criminal charges by looking through the trash, finding any kind of evidence, somebody's name," Ward said.

Another street that is a favorite of trash dumpers is Boxwood south of Holland. An area resident said it's about time the city starts cracking down on people who dump illegally.

"It's a huge burden on the taxpayers," Stemple said. "We have to pay for dump fees and employees to clean all this stuff up."

Anyone who sees illegal dumping in any part of the city of Saginaw is asked to call 911.

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