Posted on 18th Jul 2012 @ 8:49 AM
Once again, hidden cameras are being used by law enforcement to help stop crime. In Kodiak, Alaska, public dumping of garbage and improper waste disposal is a growing problem. So, in order to combat this issue, law enforcement officers began placing hidden cameras around the areas where the dumping was occurring. As a result, many people have been caught illegally dumping, and the cameras are proving to be an excellent deterrent to other people who may be trying to dump their unwanted garbage in an unauthorized place.
The Kodiak Island Borough's greatest weapon in the deterrence of illegal public dumping is no bigger than the size of your thumbnail. That is the size of the lens used on the two hidden cameras that have been set up by law enforcement to catch illegal dumping on the side of the road.
The two self contained cameras were first installed in the area in 2010. Both cameras have been placed in the areas where illegal dumping is at its highest, and whenever someone dumps their garbage illegally in these areas, they are easily caught.
Similar cameras and operations have been set up and been more successful in other Alaskan cities like Juneau. Kodiak officials say they will begin consulting with officials from other cities so that they may make changes to their system and catch more people. But even as they are now, the cameras are a great deterrent.
According to reports, Kodiak spends an average between $60,000 and $65,000 a year on cleaning up garbage that has been illegally dumped.
"The borough has cleaned up everything from dumped appliances (including a freezer filled to the top with food that was enclosed in a solid block of ice) to a 30-gallon open trash can full of oil," said Jack Maker, code enforcement officer for the Kodiak Island Borough in an email. "Most recently, we picked up a V-6 engine with transmission that somebody kicked out of the back of their truck on Pillar Creek Beach."
Illegal dumping is a big problem in Alaska. The Juneau public works department spent $8,000 cleaning up a single dump site. In Kodiak, the city's spring cleanup drive turned into a massive hassle when home-owners took advantage of it to dump everything from old appliances to used motor oil.
The city of Kodiak, meanwhile, spent $92,000 on its spring cleanup drive last year. Most of that cost came from picking up big items left by illegal dumpers taking advantage of the city's work.
"It will probably be about the same (cost this year)," said city manager AimÃ©e Kniaziowski.
Early this month, the Kodiak City Council cut funding for next year's spring cleanup, and Kniaziowski expects a response.
"In the coming year, everybody expects illegal dumping to increase," she said.
The Juneau public works department has turned its cameras into a powerful tool.
"As far as I know we were able to identify everybody who dumped anything in (the area being filmed)," George Schaaf, parks and landscape superintendent for the city and borough, told the Daily News.
In Kodiak, the cameras have been less successful in catching incriminating evidence, and Maker said he will consult with Juneau for advice. Still, the cameras are a big deterrent.
"I believe that when a potential violator knows they're there, they tend to behave, so they can be a valuable tool," Maker said.