By Tom Travis
A reward of up to a $1,000 is being offered to those who provide information that helps lead to the arrest of anyone illegally dumping in the City of Flint, Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced today, He made the announcement side by side with director of Crime Stoppers of Flint and Genesee County, Julie Lopez in a video press conference.
Mayor Neeley said that the program will be funded in part as part of a larger grant to the City of Flint from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to fight blight.
A press release from The City of Flint stated, “The reward is intended to catch those dumping illegally in Flint — and serve as a deterrent to those who would consider defiling Flint neighborhoods with their trash.”
“Flint will no longer be anyone’s dumping ground,” Mayor Neeley said.
“We are enlisting all residents of Flint to help us in this fight against blight, and we are incentivizing them to help. Dumpers beware: We have nearly 100,000 pairs of eyes watching for you and ready to cash in on your illegal dumping.”
“Crime Stoppers has always been committed to getting criminals off our streets. Now we are helping to literally clean up Flint streets,” said Julie Lopez, director of Crime Stoppers of Flint & Genesee County. “We are very aware that blight can lead to many other types of crimes. This project is an excellent opportunity for all of us to work together for a better, cleaner, and safer Flint.”
“Crime Stoppers Fight Blight” starts immediately
The Crime Stoppers Fight Blight effort starts immediately. Over the next few days, residents will also see a public service announcement begin airing on television as well as billboards going up in every Flint ward to promote the effort.
How to Report Illegal Dumping
Residents can anonymously report illegal dumping by submitting videos or photos to CrimeStoppersofFlint.com or on the free P3 mobile app or you can call 1-800-422-JAIL (5245). Tips that help lead to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.
Tips that help lead to an arrest are reviewed by the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors Reward Court Committee to determine the exact reward amount. The committee meets once a month.
Typically, Crime Stoppers only offers rewards for tips on felony crimes. This new partnership is a testament to Crime Stoppers’ commitment to the community. The organization is built around the vision of “working together for a safer Flint” through active partnerships with law enforcement, media, and community members.
Chief of Police Phil Hart encourages residents to “upload photos”
Flint Police Chief Phil Hart said it is especially helpful if tipsters upload photos or other detailed information to help police catch these criminals. A Flint resident for 30 years, Chief Hart said this entire community should be proud of this unique partnership designed to fight blight.
“Crime Stoppers has long been a friend and a partner of the Flint Police Department,” Chief Hart said. “We know our combined efforts can help solve crimes — and just as importantly show would-be criminals that this whole community is watching and is part of our united fight against blight in our community.”
Illegal dumping is punishable by 90 days in jail, a fine of $250 to $500, and impounding of the dumper’s vehicle. Violators also pay the cost of cleaning property and impoundment of their vehicle.
Blight in Flint has been ongoing
Blight has been an ongoing problem in Flint. In recent years illegal dumping has become an issue throughout the city. Many residents have taken to social media posting videos of the illegal dumps and sometimes catching illegal dumpers red handed. Numerous neighborhood clean-up events have been organized to combat the problem.
Even though Genesee County has received about $67.5 million through the federal Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) to eliminate blight—funds which have funded demolition of 5,000 vacant properties—much more is needed, U.S. Fifth District Congressman Dan Kildee told participants at the March meeting of Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU).
Addressing residents’ concerns about how best to continue fighting blight in Flint, Kildee noted the Genesee County Land Bank—of which Kildee was the first director—still estimates an additional 1,500 properties need to come down, and the money is beginning to run out.
Report Illegal dumping and Blight
Mayor Neeley announced the Fight Blight effort in January, inviting residents to be a part of the initiative by reporting illegal dumping as well as utilizing the Blight Elimination and Neighborhood Improvement Office to get assistance organizing cleanup efforts, getting supplies, and reserving Dumpsters.
The Fight Blight effort includes Neighborhood Safety Officers who enforce city ordinances, the Administrative Hearings Bureau that works with property owners to get properties cleaned up and/or assess fines, as well as laborers and AmeriCorp workers who do cleanups throughout the city.
Under the Neeley administration, there have been 131 neighborhood cleanups — a 38 percent increase year over year, even with some slowdowns because of COVID-19. In all, the blight department has hauled away more than 1 million pounds of blight this year.
Residents are asked to report blight and illegal dumping using the following contacts.
Contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-422-JAIL (5245), CrimeStoppersofFlint.com, or via the P3 mobile app with tips that could lead to an arrest for illegal dumping.
Contact the City of Flint blight office at 810-237-2090 or CityofFlint.com/FightBlight to report a blighted area that needs to be cleaned up or to request assistance with a planned community cleanup.
EVM assistant editor and reporter Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org