D.C. police expand litter enforcement pilot project

A 16-month-old pilot project to enforce the District of Columbia’s anti-littering law against pedestrians has been expanded to include a second police district.

On Sept. 1, officers in the 6th District, which lies east of the Anacostia River and north of Good Hope Road, will start writing $75 tickets to pedestrians and others who litter in non-traffic situations, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Police Department. Warning tickets are being issued in the 6th District during the month of August.

The litter enforcement pilot project targeting pedestrians and others in non-traffic situations began in April 2011 in MPD’s 4th District, which is east of Rock Creek Park and north of Park Road N.W. and Michigan Avenue N.E. The project stems from legislation enacted by the D.C. City Council in 2008 which requires pedestrians and others stopped for non-traffic littering to provide their true names and addresses to police so that tickets can be issued. The tickets are adjudicated by the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, an independent tribunal.

As of  May 17, only 14 tickets had been issued by officers in the 4th District, and only two fines paid, according to records released by OAH. Most of the persons who received tickets apparently ignored them, resulting in unpaid default judgments. [See “D.C.’s anti-litter crackdown reveals gaps in law” (Posted July 2, 2012.)]

“We still haven’t had enough tickets written to know what kind of an impact it’s going to have [and] whether the process is going to work,” said Sgt. Keith DuBeau of MPD’s Office of Strategic Change.

But initial reports from the 6th District are encouraging, according to DuBeau.

“The people over there really seem to be excited about” the pilot project, he said. “We have a lot of warning tickets already.”

DuBeau said it is unclear if more littering occurs in the 6th District or if the officers there are more engaged in the enforcement effort.  Warning tickets will be issued through the end of this month, DuBeau noted, “[t]hen we’ll see how many real tickets we get.”

The 2008 anti-litter legislation also gave D.C. police, for the first time, the authority to stop vehicles for littering and issue tickets. The fine for littering from a vehicle is $100.

Since the law took effect in March 2009, MPD’s 6th District has led the department in the number of tickets issued for vehicular littering. According to the police department’s annual reports for 2009 through 2011, a total of 79 such tickets were issued in the 6th District during those three years. The second largest total, 73 tickets, was reported in the 7th District, which is east of the Anacostia River and south of Good Hope Road.


 −Wayne Savage



For further reading: Metropolitan Police Department Special Order SO-12-19 (July 25, 2012) Littering Enforcement Pilot Project Program Phase II


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