MPD Expands Littering Enforcement Program – Warnings for Aug. and in Sept. – $75 Tickets to Pedestrians

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

From MPD:

“On August 1, 2014, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) launched citywide enforcement of the District of Columbia’s anti-littering laws, expanding it from a pilot program used in the Fourth and Sixth Police Districts, and allowing officers to issue $75 Notices of Violation (NOV) to any pedestrian observed littering.

Throughout the month of August, MPD officers will issue only warnings to violators in the First, Second, Third, Fifth, and Seventh Districts, as the Department works with community partners to educate the public about littering enforcement. Officers in the Fourth and Sixth Districts will continue to issue actual tickets.

Beginning Monday, September 1, 2014, anyone in the District of Columbia violating the littering law may be issued a $75 ticket.

If an officer sees a person dropping waste material of any kind on public space, in waterways, or on someone else’s private property, the person may receive a $75 NOV for littering. Anyone issued the NOV is required to provide their accurate name and address to the officer. Those who refuse or fail to provide their accurate name and address can be arrested and, upon conviction, be fined an additional $100 to $250 by the D.C. Superior Court. Failure to respond to a littering ticket by either paying the fine or appealing the ticket to the Office of Administrative Hearings will result in a doubling of the fine.

MPD officers will continue to issue $100 traffic tickets to the driver of any vehicle where an officer observes either the driver or any passenger toss trash of any kind onto someone else’s private property or onto any public space, such as streets, alleys, or sidewalks.”

74 Comment

  • I take it that the summer is so slow that the police have time to track down litterers but not the violators of other laws. I guess this is what happens when Congress goes on vacation.

    • Oh, come on. Summer is peak time for littering, because more people are outdoors.
      More enforcement of litter laws can only be a good thing. My block gets way too much litter; I’d love if some of the violators were caught in the act and received tickets.

    • The police can enforce more than one law at a time. Personally I think this is great – so tired of seeing trash all over the place, especially RIGHT NEXT TO A TRASH CAN.

      • If it is right next to a trash can, it may have been in the trash can and blew out with the wind (i.e., it may be a trash collection issue and not a littering issue). That said, it is annoying having to pick up trash every day from my front yard.

        • Really…. is that what you honestly think?

          • Yes, that’s honestly fact. Especially plastic bags and napkins. I regularly see those fly out of trashcans while standing around waiting for the bus.

        • You’re right in that such things do happen. However, I’ve personally witnessed people throwing trash on the ground either within feet of a trash can, or literally right next to a trash can, too many times to think that’s the cause of most of the litter.

  • This is great. I hope they give out a lot of tickets. It is not difficult to throw your trash in a bin!

    • Last weekend, stopped in my car at a light, I overheard through my window a gobsmacked cyclist tell two friends he had just been issued a citation for going through a red light.

  • epric002

    would love to see this affect the amount of litter in our neighborhood. know what else would help? more public trash cans!

    • You can request a public trash can for a specific area, but they don’t like to install them on residential streets because apparently they empty them in the middle of the night and it’s noisy. See .
      That reminds me, I need to follow up with my ANC rep about a corner where I was hoping a public trash can could be installed. The storm drains there always have a ton of litter in/around them.

      • epric002

        thanks textdoc! despite the website stating that you can request a new litter can via the website- it’s not actually an option. i’ll have to remember to call later.

      • I still bet the corner of R and Vermont and/or R and 13th would be a great place for a can. Not nearly enough around.

    • You would think a public trash can would do the trick. It might help a bit, but not really. Even worse, the public trash can on my block is the unofficial bulk waste dumping spot – often the final resting place for mattresses, tv’s, and other random pieces of junk furniture.

      I think peak trash periods are dependent on the particular neighborhood or block. For my area, the trash goes through the roof when school is in session (charter middle school). At the very least, the volume doubles, and nobody can seem to find a trash can. As mentioned in another post, the school related trash is from both the students and the parents dropping the kids off. Good times.

  • finally…been waiting for this to happen for a while. Some of the city neighborhoods (including mine) have way too much popeye’s, subway, Wendy’s, beer bottles trash–let’s see if there is any behavior change and/or if the areas especially around bus stops become less covered with litter.

  • The police are welcome to sit in my front yard and ticket the parents at the charter school across the street from me who use my yard as a garbage bin. Note how I said the parents, not the kids.

  • I hope they start with the upstanding citizens that drop hundreds of &Pizza boxes in the blocks around 13th & U on early Saturday and Sunday mornings.

    • Amen ww2013 — between those and the liquor bottles that folks drink before/after going to the clubs. This continues all the way down to 12th and S.

      • Even worst has to be the grass patches around 11th, S, and Vermont. Always covered with bottles, broken glass, and fast food bags. There are even trashcans nearby!

        • Hey, after you’ve pounded a handle of vodka in your car, partied at the clubs, eaten a pizza on the way back to the car, and then had sex in the car (as evidenced by the used condoms), there’s barely enough time to drive back to Maryland before sunrise!

  • This is long overdue and I hope they can issue tickets to teens as well–as its been my observation that they are some of the main culprits. Our nations capital is supposed to be a model for the rest of the country, yet we are still at the top of the list in a lot of negatives including HIV rates and infant mortality. Litter might not seem like a big deal, but having lived in a formerly ‘sketchy’ neighborhood which is now ‘gentrified/hipster’ getting rid of litter is the most important little thing one can do. At first, we used to pick up whatever litter we saw all our block and it did help. Where one sees a disrespected property or nature–other disrespectful things follow in the form of more criminal activity. I am not pro-‘gentrification’ and anti-poor, but for better and worse cleaning up the neighborhood does usually seem to result gentrification.

    • “Our nations capital is supposed to be a model for the rest of the country” Why? Being an example to others implies being better than others. I don’t understand where this superiority complex comes from. Can we just agree that littering is bad without making DC anything more than it is. Regarding your other comments, gentrification often translates on the city providing better services than they did before, which is mess up (they had to wait till the gentrifiers move to make things better, why didn’t they improve things before) so many times those positive gentrification results you see are the consequence of years of racism and neglect by the city.

  • Tip for MPD. Just set up shop in Columbia Heights. I’m quite sure we could fund the entire 2015 DC Budget with fines from the littering here. I’ve lived in DC for 17 years with 4 in Columbia Heights and this neighborhood has by far the worst offenders. I just don’t get it.

    • austindc

      I think they could probably even just sit on one corner in Columbia Heights and issue tickets for littering, speeding, and running red lights and stop signs and make more money than there is on the planet. If there is a break in all of that, they could also arrest some drug dealers. They already have the cops there, they just need to get up out of their cars once in awhile.

    • the benches by cvs have gotton really bad too

    • Was about to post almost the exact same thing. Was walking up 14th yesterday between Columbia and Park and the amount of trash in the gutter and on the sidewalk is disgraceful. I’ve seen people throw stuff on the ground when a trash receptacle was literally within arm’s reach.

    • Yep. The 1300 block of Irving could use some special attention, for sure, including the corner of 14th and Irving. The CVS and Metro areas are gross. That said, it’s just sad that MPD has to announce a specific enforcement month for this. It’s not uncommon that there’s a police presence at 14th and Irving – they’re generally around then the “white people are devils” crew is out – but they couldn’t appear to be more disinterested in things like this. It really reinforces the widely held perception that MPD is full of lazy officers who just like to sit in their cruisers.

  • Just place a couple officers at the Columbia Heights metro and bingo, there’s the street car funding.

  • Time for beefed up illegal U-turn (IUT) enforcement too.
    IUTs bust out all over. Pandemic!

    • I’m sure many will find this absurd, but count me as an illegal u-turn defender. Having lived in many other places, I observe that the illegal u-turn is very much a DC phenomenon. And it is a convenient one at that. But them again, I’ve never observed a situation where much safety hazard has resulted.

    • saf

      U turns are generally legal here.

  • Most of the littering in my neighborhood occurs between 1AM and 5AM. The day they arrest one of the local “girls” for throwing their used condoms on the sidewalk, I’ll be impressed.

  • I’d love to see fines issued for this! About the public trash cans – it is actually kind of hard to get them installed, as the city (used to, at least) think it encouraged ppl to dump their household trash in it. And that just creates more problems…

  • Yes, ticket them all heavily. Littering is just so ignorant

  • I hope this includes cigarette butts.

    • Yes! I have several smoker friends who would never throw a bag, cup, water bottle, whatever on the ground, but think nothing of dropping a cigarette butt and grinding out and leaving it there. Somehow smokers don’t seem to consider cigarette butts “litter”!

      • Since an incident in college, I have been reluctant to throw butts in trashcans for fear of starting a fire.

        • +1 No way Im starting a fire but throwing a cigarette butt in a trash can!

          • Oh, BS. Pinch off the ash and put the butt in the trash can. Gimme a break – this is just pure laziness.
            – A former smoker of 20 years

      • It’s not that we don’t consider them litter, it’s just risky to throw them in trash cans. Even after step in on a but Im afraid to put it in a trash can and set it on fire. Some bars have ashtrays poles or sand ones and I always use them, but a regular trash can? Never.

        • When I went to a British music festival with a “leave no trace” philosophy, smokers were asked to carry little containers for their butts rather than leaving them on the ground. I think the containers were repurposed film canisters, but I’d imagine anything about that size (empty pill bottles?) would do.
          More smokers should do this, rather than leaving butts behind for someone else to clean up.

        • If you don’t feel comfortable throwing it in the trash, then either stamp it out first or don’t smoke in the first place. No excuse for littering.

  • this is an excellent idea. glad to see that MPD is choosing to enforce more strictly.

  • I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of sidewalk trash cans (at least outside of the city center). When I first moved into the city, they were every couple of blocks. Now they seem to only be at bus stops and near public parks. Not defending littering by any stretch, but I feel like you have to make it easier for people to do the right thing.

  • I have mixed feelings about this. I support treating littering like the real crime against the community that it is – at both a neighborly and environmental level – but i worry that it is a symptom of a learned culture, a lack of environmental awareness bred by a completely urban upbringing, and something that should be treated with positive community engagement instead. You can only fine people for ignorance so much, especially if their economic situation correlates to some degree with their crime. I think the funds raised by initiarive should be spent on educational anti-littering campaigns.

    • “i worry that it is a symptom of a learned culture, a lack of environmental awareness bred by a completely urban upbringing.”
      Sorry, but you can grow up in a city and still not think the world is your trash can. A $75 ticket should be a pretty good “educational anti-littering campaign” – I bet anyone who thinks littering is perfectly acceptable and gets a $75 ticket is going to tell everyone they know how unfair it was that they got the ticket. But it will send the message that dropping your trash wherever you want isn’t acceptable.

      • As I noted I’m pleased that the city is making this a priority. It was my intent to inject this thread with a bit of nuance. Calling litters scum on a blog off likeminded readers doesn’t solve the problem, it’s arguably as small-minded as littering.

        Now, let me address your specific comment:
        “I bet anyone who thinks littering is perfectly acceptable and gets a $75 ticket is going to tell everyone they know how unfair it was that they got the ticket. But it will send the message that dropping your trash wherever you want isn’t acceptable.”

        I’m fine with the second part of that message, it’s important that people understand that littering is unacceptable. I also agree with your premiss that those fined will tell others how unfair the ticket it. It’s clear though that you and I disagree about whether or not people care more about unfairness or legality. If littering idiots feel that littering is an issue being forced upon them by entitled newcomers and their police force I don’t think that you can argue that you’re solving the littering problem. You need to get the littering idiots where it matters, the idiot part. Go ahead and ticket them. But don’t forget that the job of government is also to educate them. Not many enlightened people litter.

        • “Calling litters scum on a blog off likeminded readers doesn’t solve the problem, it’s arguably as small-minded as littering.”
          It’s really not.

  • Hallelujah!

  • i wish metro bus drivers would call people out for littering. i see idiots throw trash out bus windows all the time and it just burns me UP. it’s my neighborhood!!

  • Good. In fact, fine people $200 per infraction. It’s so easy to not litter. It’s lazy and even narcissistic to litter even in the absence of a trash can. I can’t understand the mindset of people who litter in plain view of other people, including their friends. Where’s the shame? I understand that we’re not all raised with the same values, but something like not littering should be inherent. You don’t drop your garbage for it to be seen by other people, and pollute our city and environment. It looks shitty, is a gross behaviour and if everyone did it we’d constantly be shin-deep in filth. Please shame people [be safe] who you see litter. It will help.

    More honeybees, less litterbugs. What what!

    • Park View resident here too. Considering how much litter I see on my street, it’s amazing how rarely I actually see people in the act.
      I did see a young guy the other day setting down a red plastic cup on my neighbors’ steps. I hurriedly finished parking my car and called after him: “Excuse me! You forgot your red cup!”
      His friend with whom he was having an argument said something like “Hmph. You didn’t forget that. You left it there on purpose!” But the guy came back and picked it up, so that was a small victory.

  • GOOD! I was just talking about this over the weekend – I hate seeing people toss their full bags of mcdonalds out their car windows like the earth is their giant trash can.

  • On a somewhat related note, is it just a “DC thing” to place your old computer monitor, rickety plywood bookshelves and clothes on a pile in front of your house with a loose leaf sheet of paper with the word FREE scribbled on it? Nobody wants your broken goods. Call bulk trash or take them to a Goodwill.

    • I don’t think it is just a DC thing, I think it is a city thing. Many people who live in cities don’t have cars, live in very small places, and it’s a hassle to get rid of unwanted items. I agree it’s amusing (and kind of annoying) to see an old computer monitor sitting on the sidewalk with “Free!” on it, though amazingly this stuff usually seems to disappear…

      • I can tell you how a lot of this stuff disappears…every day there’s a white pickup truck that drives through the entire neighborhood (including all the back alleys) picking up tons of stuff that has been discarded or left out as “free”. It’s clearly some kind of business these two guys have going.

    • I don’t get it either and haven’t seen it elsewhere, but the only other big cities I’ve lived in are Atlanta and Kyoto.
      There’s also a disquieting number of people who seem to think that taking unwanted mattresses, furniture, CRT TVs, etc. and placing them on the sidewalk or an in alley means that they will magically disappear. I guess either they don’t know that you have to _schedule_ bulk trash pickups (and that mattresses have to be plastic-wrapped), or they don’t care.
      It’s also enraging when people are moving out (or otherwise wanting to dispose of furniture) and post a Craigslist “curb alert”… hours before it’s supposed to rain. There seems to be an attitude of “The items are out of my house/apartment and are no longer my responsibility, la-la-la!”… with no holding oneself accountable for seeing that things actually get disposed of.

      • Quoting “anonymous 2:55” on the PoP post about the neighbor with the never-ending sidewalk yardsale, “I feel your pain- I live next door to a group house that constantly dumps “free” stuff on our shared wall next to the sidewalk. Things like remote controllers for long-discarded televisions with a sticky note that says “broken,” single shoes, books soaked by many afternoon thundershowers, broken shelves… basically, trash. On the other hand, I live in Mt. Pleasant, so it sort of comes with the territory.”

        I’m guessing that the group-housers (and I’m not cutting on them) perhaps don’t know how bulk trash works or just think they’re being a good person and there is someone who wants their stuff. Some stuff, however, just needs to be thrown away.

  • I hope they focus on Randolph St between Georgia Av & 14th St NW. It’s littered with trash every day.

  • Yes!!! Quality of life crimes matter and contribute to overall disorder. Thank you MPD

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