Constable uses Facebook as wanted poster to catch illegal dumping

The purpose of a video posted this week by Williamson County Pct 4 Constable Paul Leal was to send a clear message.

Leal was at an illegal dump site on County Road 345 between Taylor and Granger, one of several cases where items left behind have helped track down the suspect even if the evidence is trashed or torn up.

"We will pick all that up and we will bring it back here and we will tape it back together. And we will find a lead," said Leal.

A letter from a probation officer found at the dump site did not require reassembly. The constable gave the suspect 48 hours to surrender and confess. 

"I’m thinking, are you serious maybe you should’ve stayed a little bit longer, maybe it wasn’t time for parole, this is what you are going to go do," said Leal.

Using Facebook as a wanted poster has worked before, says Leal. "We did one, a couple of months ago, within hours of posting that video a mother was on the phone saying that’s my son," he said.

Illegal dumping in the eastern part of Williamson County is a big problem. The garbage from the CR 345 site appears to have come from an auto repair shop. As of last check, there are now multiple persons of interest in the CR 345 case. Interviews with investigators are being scheduled.

Michael Cooper, chief of staff for County Commissioner Russ Boles, said he was the first at the dump site and said clean up costs in this part of the county totals more than $100,000 every year.

"We only get so much revenue in taxes, and we can either fix roads, we can mow right away, or we can clean up illegal dumping, and so sometimes we have to make choices on that," said Cooper.

Active patrols are done but Precinct 4 has more than 600 miles of county road. To help increase enforcement, the constable is investing in technology. The Pct 4 environmental investigation team has a set of cameras typically used by hunters. Money to buy more has been requested. The cameras have proven to be very successful in recording illegal activity and closing cases.

"And we can say is that not your truck is that not you that sure looks like you," said Leal.

The Constable has been busy this year. Since January, 13 arrests have been made and three of the cases are so large, the offenders were charged with felonies. Jail time can be avoided if suspects turn themselves in, pick up the trash and prove they have properly disposed of it.

Constable Leal’s electronic wanted posters has generated thousands of views. He’s happy with the response, but says the community can also play an active role in cracking down on illegal dumping.

"I tell people all the time if you see a truck running around on Sunday afternoon loaded with trash out in the county, they are going to dump it, do me a favor and take a picture of it," said Leal.

The Constable made it clear for residents to not confront someone who is illegal dumping, but instead take a picture, send it to the Constable's office, and they’ll do the rest.

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