CINCINNATI (WKRC) - From hillsides to abandoned lots, front yards to entire neighborhoods, sections of Cincinnati are getting trashed.
The blight is so bad, an entire street on the west side is now barricaded. A Local 12 investigation discovered, in many cases, the penalties don’t outweigh the risks.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, a local nonprofit dedicated to revitalization and environmental initiatives, is teaming up with the city to fight this growing tide of trash. In just two years, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful reported it cleaned up 99 dumpsites and hauled away nearly 2 million pounds of debris. But as soon as one site is cleaned up, another gets piled on.
“It looked like a landfill,” Alistair Probst, the environmental services program manager for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, said of a hill that was so piled with trash it rose from the ground up to his shoulder.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful purchased 30 cameras designed to track deer and mounted them on utility poles.
“The camera doesn’t lie,” Probst said. “The camera does not lie.”
Those cameras now capture violators in the act, from a construction worker throwing out home renovation debris to a family tossing old furniture. Each of these criminal acts involves a calculated risk. Those doing this dumping avoid big fees at the landfill.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Cpl. Bryan Peak was in the criminal investigations unit for more than a decade. Now, Peak uses his investigative expertise to track down those who illegally dump.
“You don’t have to pay for a dumping fee $125 to $150 on the construction and waste debris,” Peak said.
Instead, they dump on neighborhoods for free. Even after being cited by the city and fined for dumping, people like Jesse Carradine insist they didn’t do it.
Carradine, who owns a mattress store on Hallmar, was fined $1,250 twice in 2016. Once when the SUV he owned was spotted dumping “four box springs” and again when a man spotted that same SUV with a “mattress [that was] dumped in front of the Buttercup Valley Preserve sign,” per official city documents.
The city says it dropped a third case against Carradine in 2017 after a witness didn’t show up to testify against him.
“It wasn’t me,” Carradine told Local 12.
While he admits the car and vanity plates were his, Carradine insists he and that vehicle were out of town at the time of the incidents.
“What am I going to fight it for?” Carradine said. “Ain’t no sense to fight it...I ain’t going to jail, so why fight it?”
Carradine does make a point. The fines aren’t large enough to fight or, for that matter, stop the dumping, which is why the city is facing the problem.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful has 30 cameras deployed right now, but they say in order to catch more people in the act, they need at least 70 more.