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Illegal dumping update: city council says 'some success' found with new task force

Currently there's about $1.8 million and a 17-member task force team allocated toward keeping the city clean.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Last month, the Memphis City Council approved major initiatives aimed at curbing illegal dumping. The council also met Tuesday to discuss a desire for more recourses combat litter and illegal dumping. 

Currently there's about $1.8 million and a 17-member task force team allocated toward keeping the city clean. 

The director of public works said so far the city has had some success in catching and arresting those who have littered. 

"We just have to work really closely with MPD and the district attorney's office to prosecute because they actually have to take the case that we build and go with," Robert Knecht said. 

Still, some neighborhood advocates have been critical of the new initiatives, implying that they don't go far enough.

"I live in Whitehaven but I advocate all over Memphis—it's a mess out here," Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson said.

Dr. Nelson helps lead a beautification non-profit called My Zip.

"Don't ask what the community can do for you, do for your community, don't be silent," Dr. Nelson said.

She said she's skeptical about the impact of the newly formed blight and illegal dumping task force.

"You cannot be behind a desk and not come out and be active in what's going on—it's not going to be effective," Dr. Nelson said.

Supporters of the task force said it will create new collaboration between different city agencies to clean up more illegal dumping sites at a quicker rate.

"We want something substantial, we really want to move the needle on this situation because, if not, it's gotten out of hand," Logan added.

Dr. Nelson hopes task force members go out on illegal dumping cleanups to see the challenges firsthand.

She also concedes it will take a different mindset among Memphians to take more pride of their blocks and the Bluff City.

"If you teach the little ones 'don't throw the paper down', they are going to tell their parents 'you shouldn't throw that out the window'," Dr. Nelson said.

The illegal dumping task force is scheduled to provide monthly updates.

City crews also set up 100 covert cameras to catch illegal dumpers in the act - and that ID can be used to file criminal charges.

Those who see illegal dumping in Memphis are asked to call "311."

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