Sheriff Nick Smith's new plan for curbing illegal dumping in the county is to begin putting people in jail.
Walker County Sheriff's Office officials announced on the department's Facebook page Thursday that enough litter had been taken from a local waterway to fill 17 60-gallon trash bags. A second post Friday afternoon said that Chief Deputy Anthony Leach had obtained four arrest warrants on individuals connected to illegal dumping.
"It's always been a problem, but I don't think it's something that has ever been made an example of by putting people in jail," said Smith, who rode out to the area of Leeth Creek in east Walker on Friday, where a litter crew continued to clear the banks of trash.
In the past, deputies have written a handful of traffic tickets when they have observed drivers throwing trash out the window.
The arrests to come are likely to be for criminal littering, a Class C misdemeanor which carries a minimum fine of $250.
Two litter crews, each manned by two Walker County Jail inmates and one corrections officer, work in the county each day. The crew supervised by Keith Anderson remains in District One. The other, supervised by Wayne Jones, circulates between the remaining three districts.
"It helps us to have those two guys out every day because they can go through the garbage and find things that are tied to individuals who are illegally dumping. They find it and report to Chief Deputy Leach, who will take it from there," Smith said.
The goal is to eventually have one crew in each district, according to Smith.
So far, litter crews have come across a stolen gun, drugs and paraphernalia as well as household garbage. The cans that are found are recycled, and the proceeds are given to a local nonprofit, Smith said.
"I'm glad to have people out here picking up litter, but the only way to make it better is for people to take responsibility and stop throwing their trash out," Smith said.