by Dale Freeman, Constable Pct 1
Tyler County and specifically Precinct One has been experiencing a rash of trash dumping. Over the past few months, every time you ride down the road, you find a new spot where uncaring persons are dumping their household garbage. I even see bags of garbage thrown out along the state highways. This is going to have to stop.
The Tyler County Precinct One Commissioner's office and the Precinct One Constables office are tired of this occurring. We are about to aggressively pursue criminal action against the persons responsible for this illegal dumping. We have been going through the garbage and looking for identification information of the persons involved. To this point, we have been prompting the persons to pick up the trash and threatening to file charges if they don't. Sure, everyone is glad to pick up their trash after we have evidence and are about to file charges against them. They knew this was wrong when they did it. This leniency is not going on forever. We have to enforce the State law and penalty already in place to deter those without self-control toward legal compliance and any self-pride in their home and community.
The State law says persons guilty of dumping trash can be Convicted of a Class C Misdemeanor if the garbage is less than five pounds (maximum $500 fine). If the garbage weighs more, the class of the offense goes up and so does the penalty. The offense can be as high as a State Jail Felony (up to several years in State Jail).
Unlike most other offenses, in most illegal dumping cases the State does not have to prove or even allege a culpable mental state such as intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. Just proving your trash was improperly disposed of is sufficient to charge you with the offense.
Many times while investigating these cases, we find that someone hires a third party to haul off their trash. This third party may have been compensated to properly dispose of the waste along with the funding to pay for the disposal. However, the third party many times just goes down the road and throws the trash on the side of our roadways pocketing the extra funding for the disposal.
In cases like this, the owner of the trash is still responsible when their trash is not properly disposed of. When trash is not properly disposed of, the owners are the ones we will deal with.
I challenge all law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to aggressively pursue these cases. I challenge the local media to report the convictions of persons guilty of these offenses. I challenge the public to report anyone they observe illegally dumping their trash.