Environmental police ready to clean up city, literally

By TImes staff writer
Published December 9, 2006

TAMPA - Those looking to dump trash in East Tampa without consequences, beware.

The Tampa Police Department has created an Environmental Crimes Unit with two detectives, John Belk and Bryan Felts, charged with solving environmental crimes in the area. They have been on the job two weeks.

"For so many years, East Tampa has been just a dumping ground. Nobody has cared," Felts said. "It's time we start caring."

He said he and Belk have made numerous arrests already and have investigated the dumping of gasoline, motor oil, vehicles, construction debris and even a fiberglass boat.

Most of those arrested don't live in the area. They come from outside to dump in East Tampa. Felts wants that to stop.

"It's maybe not as sexy as homicide or robbery," he said. "But it makes a difference."

The pair will work in conjunction with the city's code enforcement and Clean City division. The effort is being funded by a special tax created to spur redevelopment in the area.