The 7-foot cardboard cop will be returning to Beaufort County to warn drivers that deputies will be on the lookout this month for litter violations -- and they won't be issuing warnings when they see them.
The cut-outs, which soon will be placed along county roadways, are part of the statewide "Zero Tolerance for Litter" campaign that runs through April.
Tossing cigarette butts out the window or transporting unsecured loads in the back of commercial vehicles could lead to fines ranging from $200 to more than $1,000, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
"If you commit a litter offense, there's a good chance you're going to get a citation as opposed to a warning," said Sgt. Robin McIntosh. "It's for public awareness of the effect that litter has on your community."
Deputies will also be stationed at several of the county's drop-off centers, making sure that refuse taken there is disposed of properly.
Roadside littering, however, is the most common offense, McIntosh said.
According to the county Public Works Department, people performing court-mandated community service have collected an average of 125 tons of roadside trash each year for the past three years.
Volunteers with Keep Beaufort County Beautiful pick up an average of 40 tons each year through Adopt-a-Highway programs. Those volunteers and other community groups also will help raise awareness and organize more trash pick-ups in April as part of the campaign.
One of those groups is Friends of Hunting Island, which will make public appearances and organize a beach sweep April 28 to show that litter affects local beaches, as well.
Members also will walk around the state park handing out covered ashtrays and letting smokers know that cigarette butts don't degrade, program director Dick Geier said.
"If you toss them out, they will be there for a long time," Geier said. "We keep the beaches clean not only for aesthetics, but because wildlife can ingest those things and it's very harmful to them."
They will also remind nonsmokers to pick up after themselves when they leave. A plastic bag left over from a picnic lunch, for example, could float out to sea, where it looks a lot like a jellyfish that loggerhead turtles may try to eat, Geier said.
"A turtle that eats a plastic bag is probably a dead turtle," Geier said.
- Group plans to clean up Beaufort, Feb. 20, 2012
- Carpet on beach paths is litter, town says; residents object, Feb. 11, 2012
- Debris on roads, bridges a hazard for Port Royal bicyclists, Feb. 6, 2012
- Abandoned bottles, cans 'insult' to Parish Church of St. Helena, Nov. 3, 2011
- Trash hauler driver cited for illegal dumping, Sept. 26, 2011