After picking up litter and then writing about it, I thought I’d do some research and find out what the litter laws are in fair ‘ole Springfield, Missouri. Is it considered littering if it’s on your private property? What if it blows onto someone else’s property, or onto public/city property?
Not entirely certain where to turn, I thought I’d start with the police department. I’m not fully familiar with our city and how its governing structure is set up, but I do know that the city is split into zones with each zone having a representative on the City Council. Similarly, there are a group of police officers assigned to certain neighbourhoods and they patrol these beats and interact with the people living there. This gives the community an individual to turn to for help, rather than calling a single line with an unknown person on the other end.
When looking up who our Police Area Representative was, though, I discovered that we don’t have one. After I saw the big white spot in the middle of the map and then went back to the page to see that we just don’t have one, I remembered a neighbour telling me this when we moved in. They pulled our officers due to staffing shortages, which has been a problem here since our neighbourhood has the second highest crime rate in the city. ((The lowest crime rate areas got to keep their PARs, but those are also the wealthier neighbourhoods; correlation, not causation, I’m sure…))
The City Manager had stated that new officers wouldn’t be hired until the pension matter was settled, ((Our police and firefighter pension was underfunded, and as a city we have a legal obligation to fund them, so we passed a tax increase; now that that has passed, I had hoped the freeze would be lifted)) but now that it has been, I wonder if they will hire new officers in? I contacted our City Council representative to ask, and his reply was most encouraging.
I actually wrote this blog entry when I sent him the letter, so it originally ended a bit more morosely. Nick Ibarra’s reply was lengthy and detailed, and he knew exactly where to go in regards to addressing the litter. He asked my permission to forward my email to the City Clerk so that she can send an inquiry to the appropriate departments, as there may be more than one involved. Since some of the litter is making its way into the road (there’s currently a large black tarp that has blown into the avenue behind our house), it involves more than just the Department of Health.
In addition, he wrote that the police department is working on hiring more officers and restoring those positions, but the latest batch of candidates was none too great, so it may take a while. I guess the fire department is doing a lot better and had several hundred applicants, but there weren’t as many for the police force. I’m just glad to hear that progress is being made, and also that he continues to represent the need for PAR Officers and restoring those positions in our community.
I’ve never taken much of a role in our city politics or management, or even really paid much attention to them, but once we bought a house all this stuff became significantly more important to me. I’m glad we have such a responsive and dedicated council person for our zone and the Grant Beach Park Neighbourhood.