Examiner: D.C. to ticket litterers

By: Freeman Klopott 04/27/11 8:05 PM
Examiner Staff Writer Follow Him @FKlopott
Andrew Harnik/Examiner file
Andrew Harnik/Examiner file
Tossing a cigarette butt on a D.C. sidewalk could soon mean getting a pricey ticket from a police officer.The D.C. police department is starting a pilot project next week that will have officers walking the beat ticketing pedestrians for dropping “waste material of any source” on public property. Starting Sunday, litterbugs will get a warning; a month later and they’ll get a $75 ticket. The fines jump as high as $250 and the charge turns criminal if ticket recipients skip court or refuse to provide their names to police. A department spokeswoman confirmed that discarded cigarette butts are considered enough litter to get a ticket.

“Clean cities are livable cities,” Mayor Vince Gray said upon announcing the program Wednesday. “But the Department of Public Works can’t be expected to clean up after all of our residents. Sometimes we have to bring the force of law to bear to make sure our residents and visitors are treat our city as they would their own homes.”

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the department has been interested in cracking down on littering. But police needed the D.C. Council to change city liter laws so police could ticket not only drivers who throw trash from windows, but also pedestrians who drop their garbage. Lawmakers responded to Lanier’s request and the new city law is now enforceable, she said.

Lanier said cleaning up dirty streets is similar to efforts in New York City in the 1990s to prevent crime by cracking down on curbside window washers and jaywalkers.

“Trash left in the public space creates the appearance that nobody in the neighborhood cares,” she said. “A lot of residents have been asking us for this.”

Some of the loudest were in the department’s 4th District, which covers portions of Wards 4 and 5, Lanier said. It’s in that district that the pilot program will begin. It will later expand to a citywide crackdown.


3 thoughts on “Examiner: D.C. to ticket litterers

  1. Kudos to the city for taking this action! I’m hoping they’ll be vigilant in their enforcement. We have such a nice neighborhood, it’s a shame to constantly see litter all over the streets & sidewalks.

  2. It’s about time! Litter in the streets sends a signal that the affected community is tolerant of disorder and where there is disorder, there is crime, depressed property values and lack of investment in the future. A clean neighborhood is a self-respecting neighborhood and one that demands respect from others, including city officials, with whom it comes into contact. Conversely, to quote the Staple Singers from one of their hit songs from the 1970’s, “If you don’t respect yourself aint nobody gonna give a good kahoot!” I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught me never to drop trash in the streets. Maybe this law will help teach that principle to those who were not as fortunate.

  3. Great news! Cracking down on litter has so many positive benefits affecting things such as increased tourism, property values, the environment, city revenues from fines, etc., and just makes DC a more pleasant place to live. It infuriates me how often in our neighborhood I see people toss garbage on the ground without thinking twice.

Question, comment, or suggestion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s