The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 1, 2014

Conneaut will study how to enforce new trash laws

CONNEAUT — In addition to catching thieves and drug-makers, police in Conneaut now are chasing down junk vehicles and improperly placed trash cans.

City Council’s new emphasis on code enforcement has given police officers more responsibilities. Ordinances have been approved this year aimed at improving the appearance and health of the Conneaut, and because they are municipal law it falls to police to ensure compliance.

So far this year, police have investigated dozens of junk car complaints in response to the council initiative. Now new duties loom with council’s passage of a trash-hauling ordinance this week. Among the provisions are clauses that dictate when trash can be set out for collection and when empty cans must be retrieved by residents (no later than 6 p.m. on the designated collection day).

Enforcement of law, which took effect upon passage Monday night, falls to police officers. Police Chief Charles Burlingham said he will study the trash law to determine the best way to weave it into the department’s other crime-fighting responsibilities. Given the influx of new laws, officers may appreciate knowing what offenses are priorities, Burlingham said.

“Do we still want to have officers at school zones?” he said.

Rumbles are being heard that officers aren’t pleased with code duty, saying it hampers enforcement of more serious crimes. Sgt. Steve Gerics, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51, could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said Wednesday he will make sure Burlingham gets a copy of the trash ordinance. A policy will be written detailing how the law will be enforced, he said. Priorities will also be addressed, most likely at a council meeting, Eggleston said.

“We knew there possible problems could come up with the ordinance, but we’ll work them out,” he said.

Council discussed enforcement at length prior to passing the ordinance. Members emphasized trash patrol won’t come at the expense of other crimes. “Common sense” was a phrase used often at meetings. The law was created to deal with “habitual offenders,” council said.

It’s also believed the city health department will continue to have a hand in trash-related enforcement. Board of Health members plan to refine their rules to dovetail with the city’s new law, according to reports.

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