MILWAUKEE — Someone has been illegally dumping a large amount of trash, including mattresses and other garbage, in Milwaukee's McGovern Park. This week, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office says that culprit was caught and cited.
TMJ4 News crews spotted the trash left behind because of illegal dumping Friday morning. Dumpsters were filled with garbage, furniture, and broken glass was scattered on the ground. Park leaders and sheriff's deputies say the waste is not just ugly - but is dangerous.
"Dumping is one: illegal, but it's also immoral. We're hurting the earth and we're hurting ourselves," said Vevette Hill-Nwabaraocha, McGovern Park Senior Center Manager. She said she has been having to stop people from illegally dumping at the park. "One of the things that is very painful is that, particularly in African American communities, there can be a thought that its okay to dump because nobody cares. But, we're here to say we do care."
It's a tough but common reality right now, according to Lieutenant Jeremy Franke with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. He helps lead the unit of deputies who focus on park safety.
"It's not just McGovern Park. Its system-wide really," he said. "Large appliances, furniture, bags of garbage, yard waste. If you name it, I've pretty much seen it in a county park."
Just a few days ago, he said deputies bused a guy for dumping the garbage in the photos and videos attached to this story. That person was cited more than $250.
According to the city's website, illegal dumping can warrant fines up to $5,000.
The cost isn't just expensive to offenders but to you at home, if you live in Milwaukee County.
"Ultimately the taxpayers pay for it," said Franke.
According to Milwaukee County Parks leaders, tens-of-thousands of dollars are spent every year cleaning up waste in county parks.
Already in 2022, there have been 76 instances of illegal dumping reported at 19 different parks. The Parks Department is ultimately responsible, which can stretch already busy crews thin. Meanwhile, deputies responding to illegal dumping complaints are sometimes pulled from other, more serious assignments. The Parks Department estimates staff have spent 225 hours so far this year cleaning up the waste.
The Department also spent $21,000 in 2021 at one particular location near 34th and Courtland. This year, they're spending another $14,000 to install a fence at that same location.
"It hurts us, it brings in negative traffic because people don't want to come around when there's trash and things going on that are unsafe," said Hill-Nwabaraocha. "Please take the trash to the dump because where we live is not a dump."
To report illegal dumping, call call (414) 286-CITY or report online.
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- Milwaukee couple catches illegal dumpers on camera, but still gets citation from City
"If you see illegal dumping in progress, please do not confront the individual(s). Write down the details and the description of the suspect(s), vehicle make and model, license plate, the items dumped, address/location, and the date and time of the incident," according to the city's website.
To find out more on where you can safely and legally dump waste, click here.
TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins will be filing a report about the illegal dumping Friday on TMJ4 News at 6 p.m.