County officials discuss hiring litter officer

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Due to a constant trash problem throughout Dallas County despite various efforts to stem the issue, the county is considering the hiring of a litter officer.

The idea has been discussed at previous Dallas County Commission meetings, as members of the commission have been echoing the concerns of the residents that the trash problem remains.

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard says that they are trying to get moving on this as soon as possible, possibly making a decision on the litter officer as early as their next meeting in two weeks.

If hired, the litter officer would receive authority from the Dallas County Sherriff’s Office to issue citations to trash dumping perpetrators and arrest individuals in what commission member Larry Nichols calls “extreme cases.”

Both Ballard and Nichols are in agreement that the presence of this type of officer would show immediate benefits for the county.

“We have tried educational programs. Those don’t work. We realized there is a larger problem,” Ballard said. “The officer would be someone who truly understands the problem with trash in Dallas County.”

The ideal litter officer that the county is looking for would be someone who has gone through the police academy and has experience in the field. For example, Ballard says a retired deputy would be a great fit.

Dallas County previously had a litter officer around seven years ago, a retired deputy, who is praised by commission members for taking his job seriously and significantly contributing to low litter numbers before his death.

While Ballard says the county has plenty of money to be able to afford an officer, he also stated that there have been conversations with the Sherriff’s Department to incorporate the position with an officer already employed with Dallas County.

Nichols added that he strongly believes the litter officer would cut the litter in the county by 50 percent as quick as a week after being hired.

Since the loss of the litter officer position in Dallas County, the times have changed in ways that have made the problem worse. According to Nichols, there are people from outside the county coming in and dumping trash, then leaving again. He believes this discourages the county from potential growth.

“Nowadays, people are doing whatever they want to do. There is no one to control it and it is only going to get worse,” Nichols said. “When you are talking about people moving to Dallas County and industry moving to Dallas County, and they see all the garbage on the side of the road, it is not very encouraging to get them to stay here.”

While Dallas County does employ one environmental officer who oversees the landfills, it has been made clear by Ballard and Nichols that he cannot take care of the county’s need by himself.

The Dallas County Commission is planning on speaking more about this issue in their next meeting in two weeks.