Smart Scouters capture people trashing East Texas

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - We are bringing back our mission to stop folks from trashing East Texas. Over the years, we've targeted illegal dumpsites, and today, the problem is still rampant. In fact, in one East Texas county, authorities say the last straw has been pulled.

"This particular spot right here has about three different dumps in it from three different folks," said Tommy Goodman, and environmental constable.

Goodman says enough is enough. Tires, glass, oil cans and milk cartons. Constable Goodman used to rely on finding old receipts and license plates to track the dumpers down.

"A lot of times we do find the information in the trash to make contact with them, give them citations and make them come back to clean it up," said Goodman.

But, finding that kind of information is rare.

"Their mind set, I guess, is well, 'If I can find me a place to chuck it out, it won't cost me anything and I can get rid of it,'" said Goodman.

But, now the game has changed. If you illegally dump your trash at an unauthorized dump site, the county will be watching.

"I think they're going to be a great asset to us," said Goodman. "These cameras actually work on the same principal as a game camera for hunters."

Item...the Smart Scouter.

"When the photo is snapped, within 30-40 seconds it's relayed back - text back to our cell phones or comes back to our computers," said Goodman.

And, it's difficult to detect because it blends in with the woods.

"These cameras are equipped with an infrared flash so you can't see any bright flash," explained Goodman.

"It's a very innovative thing," said Smith County Commissioner Bill McGinnis. "I'm very excited about it."

McGinnis said he is having cameras set at several of the chronic dump sites in his precinct.

"When the dumpers, they pull out into an area that they think is nice and remote and dark and nobody's going to see, they may be getting their picture taken," said McGinnis.

Smith County officials add that the pictures taken from the Smart Scouter can be used as evidence in court. The penalty for illegally dumping trash ranges from a misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

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