Poulsbo Cop Nick Hoke watched from his patrol car last month as a motorist tossed a bag of six used whipped cream cans onto the side of the road. When Hoke stopped the man, and asked how often he littered, the man’s reply was quick and simple.
“Almost never,” the man said.
Those of you who follow this blog know we recently took a look at the secret lives of litterers in an informal investigation. We found out who some of these litterers are, why they do it, and one way we can stop them from trashing up this place called Kitsap.
Next up in the discussion: how has law enforcement dealt with litterers?
Port Orchard Detective Marvin McKinney says a pet peeve of his on patrol are those who litter the roads with cigarette butts. I think it’s probably something many of us have in common with him. McKinney had a rather creative way of dealing with a butt litterer one time.
“I gave a suspect the option of picking up 10 cigarette butts along the roadside or getting a ticket for littering,” McKinney wrote.
The man was wearing a nice business suit, and watching him pick up butts on the side of the road was a fitting punishment, no doubt. McKinney noted the man’s ash tray in his car was sparkling clean with not a single cigarette butt.
Carolyn Pence, Kitsap County Traffic Safety Task Force coordinator, said fines cops can dole out differ jurisdiction to jurisdiction. On state highways, however, the fines are straightforward: food and beverage containers are $103, unsecured loads $194, and a lit cigarette is $1,025. Illegal dumping can lead to jail time, and up to $5000 fine.
Problem with fines, it seems to me, is it’s just tough to catch litterers in the act. It’s quick, it’s dirty, and you wipe your hands of it — while nature inherits your unseen dirty deeds — pretty fast.
There is one thing people can do if they spot litterers. Call 1-866 LITTER1 (866-548-8371) and report a violator. You never know, it might help curb such littering habits.
Unfortunately, it seems littering is so commonplace, litterers don’t even realize their wrongdoing.
“I have actually had people litter in front of me while I was there to see them,” said Port Orchard police officer Trey Holden. “On more than one occasion. I just remind them that it is a $250 fine for littering and ask them to pick it up. They just turn red and apologize and pick it up.”