What is a Local Environmental Enforcement Program?
A local environmental enforcement program is a program your local county or city government can initiate to combat illegal dumping in your community. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources encourages local communities to start their own enforcement program to combat illegal dumping. The department retained the services of a consultant to produce a manual entitled How to Establish and Operate an Environmental Enforcement Program. This is an in- depth manual designed to help local governments start an enforcement program or improve an existing enforcement program to combat illegal dumping. From 2000 through 2002, 12 workshops held throughout the state explained how to start and implement the program outlined in the manual.
What is a Litter Control Officer?
One approach several counties have used to start a proactive program to combat illegal dumping that occurs on back roads, rural farm lands and abandoned properties is to start a volunteer litter control officer program.
In the county where this program developed, a single, devoted individual approached the county sheriff with a plan. The plan was a deputized volunteer could identify, document and develop cases against illegal dumpers in the county. The result was a significant reduction in illegal dumping and the cleanup of many dump sites in the county.
With the success of this program in the original county under way, the first officer talked with other counties and showed them the benefits of using this new tool against dumpers.
Litter Control Officer programs work when a county has the strong support of its prosecutor and local judges. The officers have full ticketing authority in the county because they are actual deputy officers of the sheriff's department. Local environmental enforcement programs also work when they have the strong support of the elected officials and/or senior level management, local prosecutors and judges. Dumping citations are issued by enforcement personnel and require dumpers to appear before the judge in court to answer to the documented violations. Sentences can include fines, cleanup of dumps or both.
Would you support a program like this in your county or community?
What can an Enforcement Program or a Litter Control Officer do for your county?
For most city and county law enforcement offices, illegal dumping issues are low on the list of enforcement priorities. For this reason, a program dedicated to illegal dumping or an initiative by one dedicated volunteer can have a significant impact.
The program becomes recognized in the community, and local citizens know who they can call to report dump sites or vehicles they suspect may be involved in dumping.
How do you want your county and community to look?
Do you want illegal dumpers to know that they will be prosecuted just like any other criminal?
The department promotes this plan for three reasons. First, it allows the county or city to take a proactive step in the appearance of its area, especially recreational areas and areas frequented by tourists. Secondly, in some of the department's regional offices, there are only one or two solid waste investigators to cover complaints and inspections in up to 24 counties in their regions. With the help of local enforcement programs, more complaints and incidences of illegal dumping can be dealt with, further discouraging this illegal activity. Thirdly, local officials can more effectively enforce against the offenders.
How do I get a Local Environmental Enforcement Program started in my community?
Often it is the local government’s staff or citizens’ groups who must convince the elected officials and/or senior level management there is a need for an environmental enforcement program. Convincing elected officials and senior management that limited resources should be expended to establish a new government program can sometimes be a daunting task. However, there are a number of ways in which staff and/or citizens groups can educate their elected officials and senior level management with regard to the need for an environmental enforcement program. Examples include photographs of illegal dump sites, maps showing the locations of illegal dump sites, press coverage in other regions, examples of other successful programs, and tours of illegal dump sites. More examples are given in the manual.
What type of person does it take to be a Litter Control Officer?
Becoming a litter control officer is not an easy task for an individual to assume. It is a lot of responsibility and hard work, and the position is usually voluntary. The person should either have a law enforcement background or be capable of getting the training needed to qualify as a county deputy. The duties may involve odd working hours to patrol during times when dumping may be occurring.
In some cases, portions of court costs go into a fund to supply uniforms and gas for the officer. In some counties, surplus county vehicles are available for the officer's transportation needs.
Who do I call about a Local Environmental Enforcement Program or to report illegal dumping?
If you want your community to look into developing an enforcement program, or if you would like a copy of our manual How to Establish and Operate an Environmental Enforcement Program, contact the Missouri Department of Natural Resources at 573-751-5401.
If you want to report illegal dumping activities in your community, you may contact your local government. They will be able to tell you if there is a local environmental enforcement program in place, and if so, they will put you in touch with the appropriate people.
Dumping anywhere in Missouri may be reported to your local MoDNR regional office.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Regional Offices
Kansas City Regional Office 816-251-0700
Northeast Regional Office 660-385-8000
St. Louis Regional Office 314-301-7600
Southeast Regional Office 573-840-9750
Southwest Regional Office 417-891-4300
Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.