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Councilman Pushes Cameras to Catch Illegal Dumpers

Hidden cameras could help clean up Memphis. There are more than 150 illegal dumps around the city, and now one city council member wants to use video surveillance to catch folks in action.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The people who work in the Memphis Division of Public Works have a hot list. It’s a printed sheet that has one hundred fifty spots in and around the city where illegal trash dumps are located.

One thing we know about trash. It doesn’t discriminate. It is messing up all sorts of neighborhoods. “I represent Uptown, Mud Island, Frayser and North Memphis,” says Memphis City Council member Lee Harris. “None of my communities are immune to illegal dumping.”

Lee Harris is trying to crack down on illegal trash havens. He even enlisted the work of some young graduate students who are part of the Urban Fellows movement to help, and, yes sir, they found a lot of nasty stuff out there. According to one of them, “Illegal dumping is one of the biggest contributors to blight in Memphis.”

Some day in the 25th century, when archeologists start digging and hit the remains of 21st century Memphis, they’ll talk about how Memphians were a strange group of people who didn’t have legs and feet, but actually had wheels. That would be the answer to all the old tires they’d find. One way current day officials are hoping to clean up these illegal dumps is to monitor them with hidden cameras. “The idea would be you would put in a system that would identify a vehicle when it gets there,” says John Osteen of the Sky Cop camera company. “Hopefully a police officer who might be working in that area could be called, get to the site, and possibly stop the dump from ever happening.”

Memphis Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom says he’s interested. True, he says, the hidden cameras cost about $7,000 each, but every year the city spends close to half a million dollars to clean up the dumps. “I definitely believe this is something that would work,” Gilliom says.

Harris will meet with police and others again, but says his plan is close to being ready. He wants to explain it to the entire city council by the middle of next month. It would include arrests, fines, and in some cases would allow police to keep any vehicle used to transport trash to the illegal sites.

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