Baltimore City Expands Camera Arsenal to Combat Illegal Dumping
Tuesday Jan 2nd, 2024
The Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) has intensified efforts to combat illegal dumping and maintain the city's cleanliness with the addition of 30 new high-tech cameras into their surveillance network.
In response to Mayor Brandon M. Scott’s #BuildBetterBMore initiative and Spring City Services Sprints, DHCD expanded its surveillance camera inventory with 30 new cameras, marking a 40% increase in their surveillance capabilities. The move aims to target notorious dumping hotspots, securing the city's neighborhoods against environmental hazards.
Within the first week of expanded deployment in August 2023, the cameras captured and identified eight illegal dumpers, leading to swift legal actions. The numbers surged to 15 incidents in the subsequent weeks, culminating in two convictions.
“Residents and members of the public continue to show great interest and support for catching illegal dumpers and ensuring that offenders are brought to justice. Our cameras are a powerful deterrent, catching illegal dumpers in the act and paving the way for legal consequences," said Jason Hessler, DHCD Deputy Commissioner of Deputy Commissioner for Permits & Litigation.
Early Success Stories
Since the installation of the additional cameras DHCD has already seen early success. In one case involving the dumping of branches in the Towanda-Grantley Neighborhood, camera surveillance resulted in a guilty plea and penalties exceeding $300, coupled with 16 hours of community service.
Another incident in the Reisterstown Station Neighborhood led to charges against the dumper, who faced similar consequences.
In another case DHCD's cameras caught the dumping of seven bags of trash along the side of the road in the Reisterstown Station Neighborhood. DHCD SIU Investigators were able to identify the driver and charged him with a criminal misdemeanor of illegally dumping. The court ordered the defendant to pay over $300 in fines and fees and to perform 16 hours of community service.
Depending on the violation, fines for illegal dumping can reach up tens of thousands of dollars and up to five years imprisonment.
About DHCD’s SIU & Role in Code enforcement
DHCD's investigative division, operational since 2009, has evolved with technology, deploying cost-effective cameras with enhanced efficiency. The SIU, comprised of 10 investigators, is instrumental in handling various tasks, including illegal dumping investigations, zoning issues, and licensing enforcement.
With 16 open investigations for 2023, DHCD has filed 22 cases, achieved seven convictions and continues to maintain a vigilant stance against illegal dumping.
The public's interest in combating illegal dumping aligns with DHCD's priorities and mission. The purchase of 30 new cameras to build evidence and pursuing illegal trash disposal cases in housing court ensures focused attention and enables dedicated DHCD attorneys to prosecute criminal dumping cases effectively. DHCD wants to send the message that it's not acceptable to dump in Baltimore and you will be prosecuted.
"Deterring illegal dumping is important to our overall vacants reduction strategy. DHCD remains committed to enhancing the city's livability, and these measures underscore our dedication to a cleaner, safer Baltimore,” said DHCD Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy.
DHCD urges residents to use legal channels for waste disposal, emphasizing five residential drop-off centers, regular trash pickups, recycling initiatives, a small hauler program, and bulk trash collections. Additionally, opportunities to repurpose items through organizations like Second Chance and Goodwill contribute to waste reduction.