Last month, when Austin Police Officer James Hellums walked up to survey the situation, a pile of toys topped by a red and yellow Big Wheel marked the edge of the John Nance Garner Circle dump.
People shouldn't have to live like this, he
said, and they shouldn't want to."It sure would be nice to be able to say, 'Hey, pick up your trash,'" he
said, and in the absence of a response to be able to write a ticket for illegal dumping - a violation that could carry a relatively hefty fine.That, he
says, might convince people not to dump their trash there."It would be nice to have some bite to it."
Right now, as one of four district representatives covering the seven districts of APD's new North Central Area Command, Hellums
doesn't have that ability.As a police officer he has the authority to write the citation - but he doesn't have the specific training to pursue such violations.
Illegal dumping and other "nuisance" violations, like tall grass or junked cars, are city code violations that are officially handled by the code inspectors working with any of a number of city departments.The city of Austin currently lacks a citation program as one of its code enforcement tools that Hellums
colleagues could use to combat these kinds of quality-of-life neighborhood problems.
..."Seeing the eyes of the kids, you know you've had a positive impact," Hellums said recently, sitting with fellow DR Gizette Gaslin in their office at Lanier High School.