News 12 First at Five/ Monday, March 20, 2017
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Marshal's Office is moving forward with a plan to catch litter bugs. It involves putting more Marshal's deputies and equipment to work to help crack down.
Sgt. Omar Rouse is on patrol every day as a supervisor for the Marshal's Office. This marshal's deputy is on the hunt for a different kind of crime. Lindsay Tuman went for a ride to see their work in action.
"It's kind of like plugging a bag of water. You plug one spot, the other side bursts," Sgt. Rouse said.
He's talking about littering, illegal dumping, and trash all over the city.
"They don't want to take the trash to a landfill and pay a fee, so they just take the trash and drive down a dark road to dump it," he said.
Now all of the deputies cover zones. Before only three or four deputies would be on litter patrol at one time for the entire county. Now there are thirteen to sixteen who each are assigned zones. That means they will serve papers and do evictions, then patrol the area and talk with neighbors. They don't just want to talk to neighbors about enforcement. They want to improve the community connection to help them understand the Marshal's Office purpose and build on the relationship.
The new zone method puts more eyes on the roads and boots on the ground for issues like illegal dumping. We spotted one area filled wtih everything from mattresses, to garbage bags, even a boat in a lot on Old McDuffie Road.
"They probably drove out here late at night, nine, ten o'clock at night and they probably dumped it and took off," Sgt. Rouse explained.
Finding the sites is the first step, then they have to investigate.
"This is a prime example of what you find and it's almost impossible to figure out," he said.
That means asking neighbors questions, looking at any names on papers left behind, even setting up surveillance equipment. But there's more problems than manpower. In the recent clean up plans the Marshal's department requested nearly 200 thousand dollars for two more investigators and additional equipment.
It's not in the city's budget now, so for the time being they're making do with what they have and asking you to help by calling 311 if you see a problem, and by keeping your neighborhood cleaned up.
"We're trying to clean up Augusta. We're going the route where we're trying to get Augusta cleaner," Sgt. Rouse.
A long route that's helping pave the way to a more beautiful city.