DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Most see spring as a time to celebrate rebirth and the end of dreary days. For Detroit’s Jonathan Pommerville it means dumping season is about to begin.
Pommerville, who calls himself the city’s camera crusader, trawls around the city he loves looking to catch trash dumpers in the act of using streets and abandoned lots as landfills.
Most recently, he filmed something he’d never seen before: a street with potholes filled in with trash.
Detroit’s crumbling infrastructure is well known, with pothole-strewn neighborhood streets. A state report earlier this year called for a $4 billion increase in spending to upgrade infrastructure statewide, including roads, water systems and the power grid.
But filling potholes with trash is something new.
“It’s just something that caught my eye,” he said. “Somebody had to have placed it inside it. I think someone had to have placed it there. It didn’t just fall in. Somebody had trash and just saw someplace to put it.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody was just driving down the road and tossed it in the hole.”
Nothing surprises Pommerville about the way people treat Detroit.
He tracks backyard mechanics dumping car parts, construction workers getting rid of debris, house flippers and landlords dumping the entire contents of a dwelling, and sometimes people just taking their trash a few streets over to an empty lot instead of putting trash at the curb for pick-up.
Recently, he came across the entire contents from the home of a veteran and his wife, including his dog tags.
“(Dumping) is prevalent,” he said. “They decide this neighborhood is a good place to dump.”
He added that he doesn’t get it because the city of Detroit has one of the best trash pick-up programs in the country.
“Either they’re ignorant of the fact you can dump for free at one of the drop-off locations if you’re registered to the city. I really don’t understand what the deal is with the city,” he added.
He plans to take his crusade to a new level, saying he’s going to start patrolling his neighborhood for trash offenders with a drone.
Once he spots them, he shames offenders with videos and photos on his You Tube page, and on Facebook, where he identifies the suspects as best he can and tells people to urge the offenders to clean up their mess. On average, an illegal dumping ticket is $500, and could cost up to $10,000, Pommerville said.
“This is a community, unlike the perception from the outside, this is a community,” Pommerville said. “Here we are, we can’t get any lower and they still trash on us. A thousand volunteers come in here and two days later the trash is back.”