Scott City about to tackle litter at teen hangout

Friday, July 13, 2007
Scott City teenagers hung out late Thursday in the caboose parking lot on Main Street, where police say they will begin cracking down on littering.
KIT DOYLE
kdoyle@semissourian.com

The Scott City government sent out several letters Thursday morning warning teenagers and their parents that a crackdown on littering at the local teen hangout is about to begin.

The letters were addressed to names associated with license plate numbers taken by police at the parking lot on Main Street, where the city's historic caboose is located. Scott City began allowing teenagers to use the lot as a hangout in the spring, using the logic that it's a safe place where they can be monitored and where they can gather without interfering with businesses. Before having access to the city lot, teenagers often congregated in the parking lot of the town shopping center, but businesses had police remove them frequently.

Mayor Tim Porch said the letters aren't meant to accuse parents or teenagers, just to warn them that the city is cracking down on littering. "We're not accusing everybody, but we're about to get very stern."

Getting stern means writing tickets to anyone caught in the act of littering, which carries a maximum $500 fine if the case goes through Scott City's court.

Porch said one of the letters even went to city administrator Ron Eskew after his son's license plate number was taken by police.

"The best way is to pick on everybody that was there," Porch said. "Whomever the car is registered to will get a letter."

Every morning, Porch said, he finds the lot strewn with trash, which the city has to clean up. "It's a fruitless expense," he said.

Police chief Don Cobb said his officers make stops at the lot nightly to talk to the teens and maintain a police presence. Police are trying to catch someone in the act of littering, but they must directly observe the act in order to write a ticket.

"I'm not above calling in a reserve officer and having him sit three blocks away and use a spotting scope to see who's doing this littering," Cobb said. "It could happen soon."

Cobb is anticipating attacks saying the police department should focus on more pressing issues, like drugs and violent crime. However, he said, police work involves enforcing the law on numerous fronts, including keeping the streets clean.

As for who the culprits are, both Cobb and Porch said they think it's a small percentage of those using the lot who are littering.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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