Lakeland setting up hotline, reward program to crack down on illegal dumping

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Spotting someone illegally dumping waste could soon lead to a reward in Lakeland as the city cracks down on the crime.

“I believe by doing this, we’ll see some change. I do believe that,” said Phillip Walker, Lakeland city commissioner, about the city’s recommendations to address the problem. “I’m very excited at this point. I’m almost about to jump out of my chair.”

Courtesy: City of Lakeland

Walker brought his concerns about illegal dumping incidents to the commission in recent weeks.

In a neighborhood off Memorial Blvd., Jerry Cox and Dorothy Jackson tell 8 On Your Side it’s hard to keep up with the trash and tires that pile up.

“You try to keep your yard and stuff clean, you look across the field and see tires and all that,” said Cox. “[The tires have] been there for about 3 weeks now. The only way they move is if we move it.”

To defeat the dumping, the city is setting up a special hotline and a cash reward.

“If you call the (863) 834-DUMP number and you press 1 because you see someone dumping right then and there, if we catch them in the act then you’ll be eligible for the reward money,” said Kevin Cook, Lakeland communications director.

Once the hotline is set up in the coming weeks, press 2 to report seeing a pile.

City officials say code enforcement officers are now tracking illegal dumping cases in the city’s computer system.

The city has recommended cutting the amount of time violators have to clean up the debris from 15 days to possibly seven.

It will also increase surveillance via law enforcement and, possibly, cameras.

“We’re serious. We’re serious about illegal dumping. We’re serious about blight. We’re serious about the appearance of our neighborhoods and here’s proof of that,” said Brian Rewis, Lakeland’s Assistant Director of the Community & Economic Development Department.

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