Crackdown on Littering – Stiff Penalties for Violating Litter Law
An effort is underway to solve the litter problem plaguing highways and byways throughout LaSalle Parish and its towns. When LaDawn Edwards became mayor of Jena, one of her first promises to the public was to tackle the litter problem in the town of Jena. At her first town council meeting, she announced plans for a meeting with Sheriff Scott Franklin and Chief of Police, Scott McLendon to explore options to address the litter problem.
Last Monday night, Sheriff Franklin addressed members of the LaSalle Parish Police Jury during their regular March meeting. He asked them to re-write the litter ordinance to include a much higher fine for littering in the parish. A research of the state statutes on littering revealed that the crime carries up to a $1,500 fine under state law.
Franklin told jurors that the littering problem has become an “epidemic” in the parish and that he has had to put a second inmate crew out to pick up litter. He said, “This is not the answer. We must start writing tickets and handing out fines to get this problem under control.”
The Sheriff said he plans to have “no littering” signs placed at key points along the major highways in the parish pointing out that anyone caught for littering could face a fine of up to $1,500. He admitted it is hard to catch someone littering, because people just naturally won’t litter in the sight of a patrol unit. The sheriff said that he plans to assign a deputy in an unmarked car just to watch for those who would litter.
In his 20-plus years as a law enforcement officer, both state trooper and sheriff, he said he had written three littering tickets. He noted when someone decides to litter, they will check their surroundings and if there is another vehicle in sight, they will refrain from doing so. And at night, it is almost impossible to see someone throw litter from a vehicle, he noted.
“What it all boils down to is that this is a people’s problem. Until the citizens of this parish have enough pride in their community to keep it clean, there will always be a litter problem”, he said. “We are hoping that by stepping up enforcement of the litter ordinance will help dissuade people from littering”.
Sheriff Franklin also said his Office will begin a concentrated effort to enforce laws concerning the dumpsters in the parish. It is unlawful for anyone to remove anything from the dumpsters. A lot of people engage in what has become known as “dumpster diving”, where they throw bags of garbage out of the dumpster onto the ground and proceed to go through the bags in search of things. The bags are then left opened, outside the dumpster, which allows the wind to pick up the trash and scatter it. This is unlawful and according to the Sheriff, his department will begin special patrols to watch these sites and ticket anyone caught “dumpster diving”.
The Sheriff urged citizens to take the initiative and put a litterbag in their vehicle and bag their trash until they can get it to a proper container. And he urged those who drive trucks to be sure there is no loose trash in the back that can blow out along the roadway.
Mayor Edwards said she has been talking with the Keep Louisiana Beautiful organization and they are going to assist the town with the litter problem. “I have a lot of people who have volunteered to help get the town cleaned up and as soon as the weather permits, we are going to get started,” she said. “I will have further announcements concerning our plans to fight the litter problem in Jena in the coming days.”
A recent research project by Keep America Beautiful, Inc., found that people litter for one of three reasons. They feel it’s acceptable to litter because: 1) Where they feel no sense of ownership for the property; 2) Where someone else will clean up after them; and 3) Where litter has already accumulated.
Although motorists and pedestrians are most often blamed for litter, Keep America Beautiful, Inc. identified sources that contribute to the problem. They are: motorists, pedestrians, uncovered vehicles, loading docks, commercial refuse sources, including dumpsters, household trash handling, and construction/demolition sites. From these sources, litter is carried in every direction by wind, water, traffic, and animals. It moves until trapped by a curb, wall, fence, a row of trees, a building, or other stationary objects. Trapped, litter becomes not only an eyesore, but also an invitation for others to litter.
In recent KAB research, 15% of individuals sampled reported littering in the past month. In 1969, more than 50% admitted littering. While littering rates have declined in the past 40 years, individual littering, and litter, persists. Littering is primarily the result of individual behaviors. About 85% of littering is the result of individual attitudes. Changing behavior is the key to preventing litter.