MPD 4D Launches Littering Enforcement Pilot Program

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From an MPD press release:

“This email is to inform the community that effective May 1, 2011, the Fourth District will be launching a pilot project for littering enforcement. Attached are a map of the Fourth District boundaries and a flyer about the pilot which will be translated into multiple languages.

Of note- 4D members will issue warnings during the first moth of the pilot (May 1 – 31, 2011) while we educate the public about littering enforcement. Beginning June 1, 2011, violators may receive an actual ticket.”

Help Keep DC Clean_04 21 11_FINAL

Littering Enforcement Pilot Project
On May 1, 2011, MPD will launch a littering enforcement pilot in the Fourth Police District. Throughout May, MPD will issue warnings to violators as we work with community partners to educate the public about littering enforcement. Beginning June 1, 2011, anyone violating the city’s littering law in the Fourth District may be issued an actual ticket or subject to arrest. (D.C. Official Code § 8.801 et seq.)

If an officer sees you intentionally or carelessly dropping rubbish, waste matter, refuse, garbage, trash, debris, dead animals or other discarded materials of every kind and description, on public space, in waterways, or on private property not under your control, you may receive a $75 ticket for littering. Failure to properly respond by following the instructions on the back of the ticket will result in additional penalties.

If you are issued a ticket for littering, you are required to provide an accurate name and address to the officer. If you refuse or fail to provide an accurate name and address, you can be arrested. Upon conviction, you will be fined an additional $100 to $250 by the Superior Court.

4th District Map

63 Comment

  • Yay! We really need litter enforcement in this town. I hope the program goes citywide!

  • ah

    This is great, but why do they need to start with warnings? It’s not like the law is new.

    Start with fliers. And citations.

    • Yeah, i don’t get that. it’s not like a new idea that you aren’t supposed to litter.

    • saf

      Commander Missouri from 4D answered that on the MPD yahoo group last night. She said, “We are conducting this pilot because this is the first enforcement effort by MPD of violations adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Hearings. This process involves new citation violation forms therefore we are testing the effectiveness of the process and accuracy of the forms in a limited pilot before it is rolled out citywide.”

  • Spitting on the sidewalk would be nice to add to the littering push as well.

  • This sounds great but ward 4 seems an odd choice – why not wards where there is high pedestrian traffic and population density (like Ward 1’s U street Clumbia Heights, Adams Morgan for example)

    • My guess is that as a pilot program they don’t want to start in the most challenging areas, i.e. those places with a) a *lot* of litter and b) a lot of other things keeping the police busy.

      In any event, I hope it eventually goes citywide.

    • It’s not Ward 4…it’s the 4th district of the metropolitan police. These are not the same thing. The 4th district also contains portions of Ward 5.

      Your argument remains the same, but people constantly confuse districts with wards, and there are discussions where the difference has an impact.

  • Help me out with this … We have kids running around with guns and stabbing each other at the zoo, shooting eachother on U st, having 80 person gang fights on the metro and we are going to enforce littering? I am certainly glad if this can be enforced, but that is a big ‘if’. I just hope MPD can keep up – their plate is already pretty full. We really need more people to uphold public decency and adhere to social norms, not more laws. People need to be taught and know it is wrong to throw litter on the ground well before they are ticketed/arrested for it.

    • I think posting fliers, issuing warnings and then if compliance is not reached issuing citations is a GREAT way to teach people.

      Also, if you don’t think enforcing littering laws is important, google: Broken Windows Theory

    • Do you think people don’t know it’s wrong to litter? It’s more a matter of them not caring.

      • Actually, if you lived in the US prior to the big anti-littering campaign in the 1970s, no one thought it was wrong to litter. People used to throw trash out of the car all the time. There was a huge public education push on this issue and now it is clearly a part of our collective vision. Google the crying native american if you want to see some of the old ads.

        If you spend or have spent anytime in Central America, it’s not the part of that culture to think littering is wrong. So there truly are people who don’t know that it’s wrong to litter or haven’t been exposed that part of US culture yet. Not to excuse those who litter but there was a time in the US when no one thought it was wrong either.

    • also, a certain percentage of those littering are going to have outstanding warrants so it’ll work to screen for that too. And some of the litterers won’t give their IDs, so they’ll get arrested and searched and the cops can find guns and drugs.

      • This is still America. you don’t have to carry an ID card just to walk down the street.

        • I am not a lawyer, but I believe that is correct right up to the point where you commit a crime in clear view of a police officer. Then you have to show ID. Doesn’t that seem right?

          • No. And I don’t think the officer can demand you produce ID/detain you or search you either. In the case of these damn lawless children it’s seems fine, because “they” are not “us”. But when your grandmother gets arrested overnight for a cigarette butt it will become a problem. But then again, this is where profiling and selective enforcement comes in.

  • Somebody comes onto my private property and parks their car in my parking space behind my row house and the ticket is only $25.

    Litter on public property: $75.

    Figure ?

    • It’s pretty easy to ticket an illegally parked car. Catching someone in the act of littering, and getting them to stick around while you write out a ticket, is another story. The fine is probably higher because you can get away with littering so many times before getting caught.

    • You should call the nearest towing company and get the car towed, they may even give you part of money they charge the owner of the car..

      • My understanding was that you can’t get the car towed (if someone parks in the parking space behind your rowhouse) until it’s first been ticketed.


  • Sounds like the start of a broken window policy to me. First noise regulations, and no littering now.

    • BRAVO! FINALLY – Maybe they stared in district 4 because of the obvious litter problem especially along the main roads.

      Have you ever riden up Georgia Avenue around rush hour, right there by the police headquarters.

      Sad and disgusting…

  • Sounds great. We have a neighbor across the street that lets teens party in front of their house on the weekends. Each morning, there are piles of empties and broken glass everywhere. Maybe a few warnings will put a stop to it. The noise violations have already ended the parties much earlier.

  • Yess. This initiative needs to spread throughout the District to keep our community clean.

  • I’m curious if this is an enforcement pilot, or simply a pilot of a new administrative procedure to deal with violators. The email string I read suggested that they have a new paper ticket and new administrative process that they’re trying out.

    I’m not sure if there will be much additional emphasis placed on enforcement of the actual crime.

  • Wow!! A littering ticket in DC is only $75?!?! No wonder people leave trash on the street when there’s a trashcan 10 feet away. I grew up in the MD burbs where the littering fine is $1000. Big difference. Also a lot less litter… Just putting up the signs that the fine was a grand and everyone was way too scared to litter anymore. Haha

  • Would really love to see this work, but I have doubts. Our street is full of garbage, with the residents/visitors of one house being the primary culprit. Cops patrol pretty frequently and don’t do anything about the guys hanging out in the alley, dealing/using and peeing, so I don’t see them doing much about litter. Besides, an officer has to witness the offender actually littering in order to write the ticket. When they cruise our street, people scatter, and then come right back once they pass by.

    • Also, the litterer actually has to have $75 to pay the fine.

      There’s no stomach in DC for incarcerating large numbers of homeless people who can’t come up with the fine.

      Also, who’s going to fine Waste Management for all the alley trash?

  • I just wish the pilot were in 1D….

    I have found that planting a lot of flowers in my yard has cut down on the amt of trash that gets thrown in there. Obviously this is not really an option in winter, though.

    • That’s good to hear. A neighbor and I were talking about a “block beautification” project, maybe getting the kids involved, cleaning up and planting flowers. Another neighbor has one of those tire planter things that serves as a garbage can for the guys who hang in the alley–we wondered if we offered to plant and tend to flowers if maybe people would be less likely to throw garbage in it.

  • How about citations for people who leave newspapers all over the Metro?

  • Unfortunately, what we need is better litter cleanup, by the city as well as by residents, most of whom don’t seem to take much of an interest in their surroundings. A bottle bill would help a lot too.

    It’s notoriously hard to enforce littering laws. Nobody is going to throw trash on the ground in the presence of a cop, and besides, a great deal of the trash on the streets is a result of curbside trash collection and poorly maintained street trash cans.

    This is window dressing and will have absolutely no effect on trash on the streets.

  • Perpetrators of these crimes will be stopped and asked to present identification. At this point, police will be able to check for any open warrants (Of which there are tens of thousands right now) This tactic is a good way to keep the streets clean AND to wrangle fugitives from justice off of the streets. Police wouldn’t waste resources on this if it didn’t have a deeper value. ALSO revenue for the city if its a simple case of littering. I applaud MPD for taking this tack and I hope it plays well for them. Residents need to start respecting this city.

    • return on time invested would be much higher if a couple of officers just had a radar gun and spent their entire shift pulling over speeders.

      Other than the photo radar cars, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen speed enforcement in DC. You can’t drive an hour on suburban streets without seeing an officer enforcing speeds. Those photo cars may be great, but they don’t get the officers out talking to people – and checking IDs and warrants.

      • New York Ave sometimes has a cop car or an incognito cruiser with those dashboard lights — I’d say about 1/3 or 1/2 of the time. They sit above Bladensburg on NY on those service roads that feed into Wash Times. This is in addition to photo enforcement there. People really slow down on NY when they see a cop car.

    • How do you prove positive identification if you don’t have a driver’s license?

    • Considering that most of the trouble makers I see on my block are not in cars…the littering tack makes sense…now you can stop em with cause on a bicycle or on foot. I suspect this is about 2 things most of all. 1. Pulling in warrants 2. drawing a line in the sand for irresponsible residents to clearly demonstrate how they should behave.

  • I’m really glad to hear about this BUT, I would venture to say that the people who litter are of lower socio-economic status, so how is fining them $75 going to work? Idoubt this will stop people from littering and when they do get caught, they probably won’t have money to pay the ticket. Maybe they should pay the fine or do community service for 3 hours, picking up trash.

    On the positive side, people from Ward 9 will get ticketed! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen f^<%=£$! with Maryland tags dump ENTIRE bags of fast food from the window of their car onto the ground.

  • Mandatory Community Service along with picking up your garbage and throwing it in the trash can would be an even better option.

    Most people littering would probably not have $75 and that will just be an added administrative burden for the city.

    COmmunity Service on the other hand such as cleaning a park or working at an animal shelter or cleaning a metro bus etc, would be a better punishment for the littering rats.

  • Hear Hear!

  • Anyone who litters should be stopped, frisked and IDed. If you don’t have idea, you take a trip downtown until you can be identified.

    It’s the broken-window approach that worked so well in New York. Start enforcing the small laws and blitzing the streets, force people to carry IDs and realize that they can be frisked at any time.

    It will result in cries of racial bias, but I can guarantee it would reduce the number of knives and guns on the street.

    • It’s unconstitutional to force people to carry ID’s, but nice try.

      • Where is this found in the constitution? I realize the idea of mandatory national ID cards is unpopular but I don’t believe it is unconstitutional. Perhaps you just mean it is “un-American.”

        Not that I support such a law, just pointing out what I think is a popular misconception.

  • “COmmunity Service on the other hand such as cleaning a park or working at an animal shelter or cleaning a metro bus etc, would be a better punishment for the littering rats.”

    +100 – and to supervise, we can add this project to DPR, and hire DC summer jobs program kids. This would be good becuse the kids would: get paid, get to be outside, do physical activity, and help to keep your city clean – learnign a valuable civic lesson. All good in the hood.

    • This would be SO awesome. 3 Hours of trash pickup… We could get rid of the damn street sweeping too…

  • As much as I would love the District to become as strict as Singapore, I have little faith that this will result in any behavioral change. Along my street, many of the litterers are children who witness adults tossing McDonalds trash and chicken wing bones outside their parked cars.

    The same fliers which are to be handed out to pedestrians will likely be tossed onto the streets.

    Education of young children regarding the safety and respect of their neighborhood is the most effective way to curtail littering. Along with raising awareness of littering, children should be taught basic rules of how to engage and communicate with adults. Heck, their parents surely aren’t helping when they’re indoctrinating their children by encouraging bad behavior such as cussing and littering.

    In no relevance to this post, I voted for Mara.

    • I’m pretty sure when these enlightened children go back home and they ask their mom where the trash is, and she looks at her 6 year old daughter and says “Stop being a bitch and throw it on the ground!”, all of their education goes out the window.

  • bfinpetworth

    I hope they include allowing your dog to crap without picking it up in this enforcement of littering. I can’t tell you how many men (yes, it is ALWAYS men) I see in my neighborhood do this.

  • I suspect this will be just like the issue with the unpaid parking tickets. You can hand out all the ticket you want, but unless they’re being paid, what’s the point?

    I cannot tell you how much crap we pick up in front of our house and in our treeboxes each week. And I promise you, you can ticket the shit out of my next door neighbor, but there is no way she’ll pay the fine.

    And there’s no way the DC government is going to hunt people down for not paying a littering fine.

  • This is an issue in my neighborhood for a number of reasons. One, there are trash bins about four blocks away and the trash blows out of them and up the street, sticking in our tree boxes and yard all the time. Will we be penalized for this trash blowing into our yards? I also wonder if this applies to people allowing their dogs to use the bathroom in people’s yards. There are several militant neighbors who will let their dogs defecate in your yard or tree box and when confronted about cleaning it up, tell you “go to he!!” That should be covered under this policy as well and enforced.

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