Macon-Bibb litter hotline successful in first few weeks

Trash lies along Emery Highway in Macon.
Trash lies along Emery Highway in Macon. jvorhees@macon.com

Some Bibb County residents are getting serious when it comes to catching litterbugs.

Since the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission launched its hotline for reporting people who litter about six weeks ago, nearly 50 people have called to report others throwing trash from their cars, said Pam Carswell, the commission's executive director.

"It's going great," Carswell said. "People are seeing people throwing trash out along major roads (and) highways. Some people are even taking pictures and submitting pictures of the trash."

Inspired by the concept of Crimestoppers, callers to the hotline can remain anonymous when leaving a voicemail detailing the alleged litterbug's vehicle type, tag number, time, date, location and description of the illegally dumped rubbish, Carswell said. The commission forwards the information to the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, which responds with an address for the owner of the car. Then, a letter from both agencies describing the reported crime is mailed to the alleged offender.

The letter "gives the offender enough information that, 'Yes, you were guilty because you would know that you did it. It's not like someone's just randomly calling in." However, so far there have been at least two cases in which the vehicle's owner wasn't the litterbug.

A Macon mother learned from a letter that her teenage son was recently spotted littering from his truck. She called the commission and spoke with Carswell.

The mother "said, 'Thanks, I will take care of this, and I appreciate what you're doing.'" Carswell said. Also, "we had one lady who called (to say) someone else was driving her car."

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said his office has received calls about the letters from people who thought they would have to pay a fine. Davis said officers tell those callers that the letter is simply a reminder to not litter.

"I think it's had an impact. Just the fact that people know that we have it," Davis said.

Bibb County sheriff's officers write tickets for littering in extreme cases, but most of the time it's a warning, Davis said.

Litter is not confined to any particular part of town, and people from all ages and backgrounds are contributing to the unsightly roadside litter, Carswell said.

"People do it ... because they probably don't want the litter in their car," she said. "It's convenient. You just toss it out the window. I look at it as lazy. I look at them as not having community pride."

Davis said the number of callers since the hotline went live "shows that people want to make a difference and want to try to do what they can to alleviate litter and people trying to make our community unsightly."

To report someone who is littering, call Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission's litter hotline at 478-330-7053.

To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.