LAWTON, Okla._The fine for littering in Lawton can be as much as $750. But a quick look around town shows that the steep price doesn't necessarily stop people from doing it, which contributes to a problem that many say is plaguing the city.
Surprisingly, the City of Lawton doesn't have a single employee paid to pick up litter. They use a small handful of volunteer inmates from the city jail. Councilman, Keith Jackson, explained it all comes down to finances and prioritization.
"It's all a priority of finances. Do you want to pay people to fix the roads, the streets, the water lines and sewer lines, or do you want to pay people to pick up trash," asked Jackson.
Nearly every day, the city's Litter Control Office picks up volunteer trustees from the jail to help combat the litter.
"And we take them out and pick up trash on all the major right-a-ways, medians, parks, around city buildings, and any other area that we get complaints about...we'll go clean them up," said Randy Hall, Litter Control Officer.
On average, he gets about three trustees a day from the jail. Then they get to work cleaning up the city.
"Well, it takes us about three weeks to get through the entire city and that's if I get trustees every single day. There are certain days where, if it's too cold, which we have had a lot of cold days, I can't pick them up till it's over 35 degrees," explained Hall.
But soon they will be out everyday.
"With it getting warmer and warmer, I should be able to get them pretty much everyday," said Hall.
Jackson says the litter problem isn't necessarily unique to the City of Lawton.
"I don't find that it's anymore a problem than any where else in the country, or any other municipality. We are always going to have people that are going to be inconsiderate and throw their cup or cigarette butt out the window, but we try our best to keep it cleaned up as quickly as we can," said Jackson.
Last year, Lawton police gave out 60 citations for littering. The average fine for the ticket was around $330. The City of Lawton Beautification Day is April 26 at McMahon Memorial Auditorium.
There will be a free and easy drop off for items such as car tires, latex paint, and antifreeze.