Albany and Dougherty County officials, from left, Ward I City Commissioner Jon Howard, Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, Dougherty County Police Capt. Tommy Jackson, Municipal Court Judge Willie Weaver, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, Albany Police Department Chief John Proctor and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Director Judy Bowles met Tuesday to announce Phase II of Hubbard’s anti-litter initiative. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — With heavy hitters from local government and law enforcement on hand to pledge their support, Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard announced that litter enforcement would be the priority component of Phase II of her call to service campaign at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re not going to tolerate litter; we’re declaring war,” Hubbard said at the downtown Government Center. “We need to clean up our city, and our efforts need to be ongoing.”
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard and top-level representatives of the county’s three key law enforcement agencies — Albany Police Department Chief John Proctor, Sheriff Kevin Sproul and Capt. Tommy Jackson of the Dougherty County Police Department — joined Municipal Court Judge Willie Weaver in offering their support for Hubbard’s litter initiative.
“I’m not only a judge, I’m a citizen of this community,” Weaver said. “I admit, litter had not been a priority in my court before, but it has for the past 18 months. I support Mayor Hubbard 100 percent, and I’ll show that support in the courtroom. Fines for littering can start as high as $500, and people who don’t show up for court appearances or pay their fines could find themselves in jail over littering.
“And I intend to start making anyone cited for littering show up in court. I will no longer allow them to pay their fine online.”
Law enforcement officials said they will step up their efforts to catch litterers.
“The public has to be our eyes and ears,” Jackson said. “No one’s going to litter if they see a police car, so the public is going to have to be involved in this initiative. If they get a license plate number or see where someone (who’s seen littering) lives, they can give us a call. If they want to call it in anonymously, they can do it online or by phone at our TIPS line.
“We’ve got to have a deterrent to make people stop littering.”
Sinyard said people who litter are the community’s losers.
“Litterers are losers,” he said. “They’re committing a useless crime: It doesn’t cost anything not to litter. Today we’re making a statement, we’re asking our law enforcement personnel to enforce our (litter) laws.”
Both Proctor and Sproul said they will instruct their officers to make a special effort to watch for litterers.
“I’m hoping — and I’m glad Judge Weaver is in the room — that when people are cited for littering that we will not only get a little of their money, but we’ll get a little of their time as well,” Proctor said. “To have them out on the side of the road picking up trash is a punishment that fits this crime. I can assure you, if we’re made aware of (littering), we will take action.”
Sproul said a lot of the county’s litter inadvertently blows off the backs of pickup trucks.
“Most of the time they don’t even know it’s blowing out of the pickup onto the street, but that’s still littering,” the sheriff said.
Hubbard lauded law enforcement, the “more than 140 citizen groups that have signed on to help us,” the local media and government officials for their help so far in her call to service.
“We can only do this if we all work together,” she said.
Hubbard said she will update the community on her initiative and hand out awards at a town hall meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Law Enforcement Center.