Waterbury Blight Team picks up nearly a million pounds of junk left on city streets

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Jarrell Smith and five other members of the Waterbury Blight Team did something remarkable last year.

They cleared nearly a million pounds of junk off of Waterbury streets — everything from discarded tires to mattresses illegally dumped on the ground and left for someone — anyone to pick up. Smith says while that figure points to the tremendous need for the six-member Waterbury Police Blight Team, it’s a double-edged sword.

RELATED: ‘It’s their own personal dumping ground’: Waterbury environmental activist angry about blight

“All this stuff it’s disgusting sometimes, you know?” Smith said. “It seems like people don’t care about their community or don’t clean up like they’re supposed to.”

“I feel like we’re helping out a lot,” he said. “Because we’re trying to keep it clean — needles off the streets, trash, garbage, everything like that to keep it clean for the kids so they can play around and not be in danger of any trash being around them.”

A typical day will see the team find things like tires and mattresses. Yesterday, they responded to a call about a typical dumping ground trouble spot on Platts Mill Road along the Naugatuck River. They scooped up more than 50 tires dumped on the street. At that same spot, they’ve also found garbage bags, car parts — even a discarded boat.

The head of the Blight Team tells News 8 illegal dumping is a big problem in the city.

“We, as a community relations division, work hard to identify where these issues do occur and where we can find ways to mitigate this from happening,” said Sgt. Jose Diaz.

One of those ways involves cameras. Another involves fines.

“We have areas where we do actually have cameras,” said Sgt. Diaz. “We also have placement of other equipment out there that helps us identify where particular issues are.”

Another police sergeant telling News 8 as far as the fines for illegal dumping go, they can start at $219.

“Some can be infractions or tickets, which is a monetary fine or some can be,” said Sgt. Diaz. “We’ve been able to get successful warrants on individuals.”

Meanwhile, Smith says he wishes all of this wasn’t necessary.

“If everybody would do their job, we wouldn’t have to be out here,” he said.

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