Illegal Dumping, Blight Are Major Issues In Memphis

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(Memphis) Dozens of Memphis police officers were off of the streets Wednesday and in the classroom.

They learned how to fight environmental crimes like illegal dumping and how to find the people doing it.

Take a drive around Memphis, and you will see the blight and other things making our city not so beautiful.

These crimes against the environment are not going unnoticed.

More than 60 officers sat sat in class Wednesday, learning how to spot these types of crimes and enforce the law against the litterbugs who commit them.

"The purpose of this class is to give the officers the basic knowledge to identify what the problem is,  Memphis Police Department Spokesperson, Officer Milton Bonds, Jr. said. "Once they identify it, to either take action - whether it be criminal action - or if it's just to get the information to a criminal investigator with TDEC who in turn will work the case," he explained.

The department said they are doing the training so they can begin rebuilding the streets they patrol everyday.

The classes stem from work connected with Mayor A.C. Wharton's E Team.

The E Team is a group of people from the community and several government agencies who come together to discuss how to make neighborhoods a better place to live.

"Environmental crimes are complex in nature," Officer Bonds said.

So Memphis police are getting some help from the state.

"Illegal dumping, illegal landfills, some of the water pollutions we see from time to time, and some of the violations we see at the gas pump, Brooke Barrett with the Tennessee Department of Environment on Conservation (TDEC) said. "Those kinds of things."

TDEC is on the lookout for crimes like these everyday and say the training is time well spent for the city and the state.

"Ultimately, this class today should help to alleviate some of those issues. That's what we're hoping for," Barrett explained.

The police department tells me this is not the last of these trainings. Officers tell WREG their goal is to create a safer, cleaner Memphis.

Consequences for committing environmental crimes range from misdemeanors to felonies. Offenders have the potential to be slapped with heavy fines or find themselves behind bars.

CLICK HERE to read more about what TDEC constitutes crimes against the environment.


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