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How You Can Help Catch People Who Illegally Dump Trash

The task force often relies on surveillance video to catch people illegally dumping.

This is the time of year - June through October - when the Hamilton County Environmental Crimes Task Force starts seeing garbage dumping cases increase. It's Deputy Bryan Peak's job to investigate and catch people illegally dumping everything from tires and appliances to trash and construction debris.

"I don't know why folks opt to dump as they do," Peak says. "Most of the times when I ask these types of questions it's convenience or that they don't want to take it to a place where it can be dumped; to pay the fine or the fee to dump. The irony to that is that when they're caught, they're usually paying two to three times more than if they would have disposed of it properly."

Peak estimates he gets 20 to 30 cases per month during a busy month. He says it's often hard to find perpetrators without some kind of video surveillance or tips from neighbors. He gets assistance from Cincinnati Police neighborhood liaison officers and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, but he basically works alone.

"Yup, I'm an environmental unit of one," he jokes.

He's asking people toreport illegal dumping, and share as much detail as you know, such as descriptions, license plates or provide video. However, he encourages you should only take video if it safe to do so.

The task force's primary concerns are illegal transport, theft and dumping of tires and dumping of residential and construction debris.

Surprisingly, he says, many people dump in their own communities.

"I find that people dump in the neighborhoods they know because they dump in places that aren't conspicuous, that are off the beaten path; dead-end streets, late at night or under the cover of darkness where they can't be observed or seen."

Peak's position is funded through the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District. The district tracks and maps all illegal dumping reports. You can file a tip or report illegal dumping here.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.