Clean up after the police

WATCHDOG

City crews clear out storm drains, but the responsibility for removing debris -- like crime-scene tape -- lies with residents

December 14, 2008|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com

THE PROBLEM: A West Baltimore storm drain is clogged.

THE BACKSTORY: It's a sight you might only expect to see in Baltimore.

In the 1400 block of Myrtle Ave., where it intersects with West Lafayette Street, several loops of crime scene tape trail from a street light pole into a storm drain blocked by trash.

Crews from the Department of Public Works' Bureau of Water and Wastewater clean as many of the city's 33,000 storm drains as they can, but this falls squarely within homeowner or tenant responsibility, said spokesman Kurt Kocher.

"The property owner or tenant at that corner is responsible for cleaning curbs and gutters, including trash that has accumulated on your storm drains," he said.

And in Baltimore, apparently, neighbors have to expect that some of that trash could include crime scene tape.

All the litter, leaves and other junk that enters storm drains in that part of the city eventually finds its way into streams that wash into the Inner Harbor, Kocher said.

The Baltimore Police Department does not clean up crime scenes on private property, such as inside a home, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. However, officers at the scene do take care of minor things in public roadways.

"Crime scene tape, we do take down," he said.

The department coordinates with other city agencies such as the Fire Department and Public Works to clear up debris or fluids from accidents, for example. "It's all part of your wonderful tax dollars at work," Guglielmi said.

WHO CAN FIX THIS: Although residents are responsible for keeping gutters and drains clear, for severe problems, call James Patrick, general superintendent, storm drains section, in the Bureau of Water and Wastewater. 410-396-7870.

City residents can also call 311 to report problems.

need help?

Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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