HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith put the city department’s new utility task vehicle (UTV) to good use May 21 by joining in the efforts to keep Hiawassee pristine. The litter shown in the feature image was collected by Chief Smith along a one-mile stretch on South Main Street on Tuesday. Smith, a humble, community-minded public servant, can often be found bettering the city in ways beyond law enforcement.
“We need your help to keep our town beautiful and trash free,” the police chief asked citizens. “Don’t leave loose trash in the bed of trucks that can fly out. Keep a grocery bag in your vehicle as a trash can that you can easily throw out at home when it is full.”
Hiawassee Police Department’s UTV was purchased with funds from the agency’s calendar sales, Smith told FYN. Businesses purchase advertising space, creating additional revenue for the five officer division. The task vehicle will be utilized for patrol duties during events.
Employees of the City of Hiawassee regularly engage in litter pick-up around the town, per request of Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, although Smith said his department’s clean-up effort was self-initiated.
Chief Smith explained the illegality of littering:
“During the process of cleaning our streets, if we locate trash that has a name on it, we can charge the owner for the litter,” Chief Smith said. “OCGA § 16-7-44(b) states: ‘…whenever any litter which is dumped, deposited, thrown, or left on public or private property in violation of Code Section 16-7-43 is discovered to contain any article or articles, including but not limited to letters, bills, publications, or other writings which display the name of a person thereon in such a manner as to indicate that the article belongs or belonged to such person, the trier of fact may in its discretion and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances infer that such person has violated this part.’ Most people do not throw trash out the window when there’s a patrol car behind them, so it is often difficult for a law enforcement officer to catch someone in the act of littering. When we do charge someone with littering, the judge has the ability to sentence the person to clean one mile of the roadway on which they littered (§ 16-7-43(b)(2)(A)). By serving our community and voluntarily picking up trash, the police department is able to charge the offenders who then have to clean up after themselves and others.”