Mobile Camera Initiative: Catching Illegal Dumpers in the Act
The Near West Side Partners believes that safety and security are vital to sustaining the Near West Side as a thriving business and residential corridor. The Near West Side Partners collaborates daily with the Milwaukee Police Department, government agencies, and community-based organizations to improve the quality of life in the Near West Side through intervention strategies that reduce crime and prevent domestic violence.
When the NWSP received complaints from community members about ongoing shots fired and illegal dumping, they acted quickly to address this concern. The NWSP installed trial cameras in five different locations in the Near West Side, covering three separate communities. The NWSP decided to use the Defender 940 because it is motion activated, battery-operated, and has remote access to a live stream.

The primary intent of installing these camera devices throughout the Near West Side was to allow NWSP to potentially record and identify the problem areas and actors in the community to share which the MPD and District 3 community prosecution unit.

Within the first months of installing the mobile camera initiative, we were able to identify a problem actor who illegally dumped in the Near West Side on multiple occasions . Illegal dumping has cost the NWSP and its community members thousands of dollars. The footage was used to identify when the dumping occurred, and a description of the suspect and vehicle used to facilitate the illegal dumping. The information was gathered in a report by Bobby McQuay and the NSWP ambassadors and shared with local beat officers under the direction and leadership of Captain Jeffery Norman. Within 24 hours, the officers were able to patrol the area and catch the suspect in action illegal dumping.

Actual Dumping Footage

To address the growing concerns for illegal dumping, we partnered with Jesse Byam-Katzman of Foley & Lardner LLP to protect the NWSP’s property interests, deter illegal dumping on Near West Side, and recover the costs NWSP has incurred as a result of illegal dumping. Katzman became familiar with the NSWP and its mission through REV UP. When he discovered that we were dealing with unlawful behavior that adversely affected the NWSP’s mission, he extended his legal resources to assist in addressing this issue. Consequences for those engaged in illegal dumping on the Near West Side and its neighboring communities include citations from the Milwaukee Police Department, fines and penalties from the City of Milwaukee, and civil liability for monetary damages and injunctive relief, according to Katzman. Katzman stated that the use of mobile cameras may be useful to other communities experiencing a similar issue with respect to illegal dumping and violation of property rights.

(From left to right) Savanah Brooks, Bobby McQuay and Duane Henderson Brooks

Our community outreach and safety manager, Bobby McQuay, and the NWSP safety ambassadors advocated for the mobile camera initiative and asks that community members continue to notify them of problem actors or high problem areas. They also suggest that residents get cameras on their own properties to keep their homes protected and to support the mobile camera initiative in obtaining recorded video evidence of problem behaviors. In 2019, the NWSP collaborated with Ring to get community members surveillance cameras at 50% of the cost. In order for the mobile camera initiative to have continued success, community participation is strongly encouraged. McQuay and the safety ambassadors check the cameras on a weekly basis along with weekly neighborhood checks.

So far, two illegal dumpers are in the process of being prosecuted in Municipal Court thanks to the footage from the NWSP mobile cameras according to McQuay, and we will continue to work with the Milwaukee Police Department to crack down on this issue.

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