Sheriff's office asking for tougher littering law

In response to an increasing problem of illegal or "wildcat" dumping, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office is backing a proposed ordinance that would add stiffer penalties for littering.

Wildcat dumpsites are a countywide problem, sheriff Tom Sheahan said in a press release.

"These dumpsites are not just an eyesore, they pose a potential health risk as well because the trash can contaminate the groundwater," he said.

"Unfortunately, Arizona law isn't tough enough to dissuade these people from dumping their trash wherever they want."

A new anti-littering ordinance will strengthen the current state statute.

"The previous statute was unenforceable from a law enforcement point of view," said Sgt.

Don Bischoff, who along with volunteer Mac McCarty will handle trash cases.

"This will allow us to more easily prosecute those who are breaking the law."

The proposed ordinance reads as follows: "Where as the Mohave County Board of Supervisors determines that littering is a serious problem in Mohave County, and that litter degrades the property, health and welfare of citizens of Mohave County, and whereas the Mohave County Board of Supervisors determines that the Arizona criminal littering statutes ARS 13-1601, et.seq., do not fully address the scope of the littering problem in Mohave County, The Mohave County Board of Supervisors therefore adopts the following ordinance."

The ordinance goes on to read "It shall be a class one misdemeanor for the litter generator to fail to remove such litter from the property of another within five days after being notified of the location of such litter by any law enforcement officer, public health officer or the owner of the property on which the litter is located."

The sheriff's office has contacted numerous people in reference to illegal dumpsites and worked with them to clean up the trash in lieu of criminal charges.

"Our goal here is not necessarily to send people to jail, it's to clean up the existing sites and prevent any new ones," Bischoff said.

"Criminal charges will be filed if the people refuse to work with us though."

The MCSO has had over 64 cases involving illegal dumpsites since Macarty volunteered in May to patrol for them.

He has logged over 3,700 miles since becoming a volunteer, Bischoff said.

In addition to the previous ordinance, another hurdle officers must overcome when investigating illegal dumpsites is contacting a suspect.

"When we find clues at a dumpsite that tell us who's trash it may be we have to trace it back to their residence," Bischoff said.

"Very rarely is the address on the trash the person's current address and many times the address is several residences old.

The new ordinance goes before the board of supervisors at their Monday meeting in Kingman.