Jacob Briggs says he could find a job that pays more, but the work he does as an environmental deputy for the Canadian County sheriff’s office is far more rewarding.
Briggs, who has served as a part-time environmental officer since 2013, will soon take on the role on a full-time basis. His job will be to locate illegal dumping sites throughout the county.
He said recently while returning from a newly located dump site just about a mile north of Yukon that he enjoys the job, helping keeping the environment clean.
Briggs said the site he found last week was new. The landowner had been in the area just a few days earlier and discovered that at least two televisions, several bags of garbage and furniture had been thrown onto someone’s property.
“This one occurred on Thursday,” Briggs said.
Digging through the garbage bags, the deputy was able to locate several pieces of mail with names and addresses.
Turns out, the people to whom the material belonged, had recently been evicted from their home. They left everything behind.
The property owner, Briggs said, hired a company to make the property ready to rent. That company dumped the material on the land instead of paying to dump it properly in a landfill.
As a result, the company has been cited and will be required to clean up the property … including some material they may not have left behind.
In addition to a substantial fine that can range up to $400, those responsible also will likely be required to perform community service by helping to clean additional sites.
Briggs said between 1,200 and 1,400 illegal dumping sites are found annually.
“As the county’s population grows, the problem becomes worse,” he said.
Areas of high concentration are in the rural areas near Yukon, Mustang and Piedmont.
Some of the more notorious areas are near Morgan Road and Wilshire, along SW 15 and Frisco and Banner and Manning roads.
“People like to stay away from high-traffic areas. The big piles are on the back, country roads,” he said.
Many of the dumps are sites where people dump things like appliances, tires and waste oil.
Briggs said that is a concern because the chemicals can leach into the water system, whether it’s a nearby river or the water table.
“Even if it isn’t near a creek or a river, many of those residents rely on well water. Some of the chemicals can seep into the water table,” he said.
The results can be devastating, Briggs said.
“A lot of people don’t realize that it is truly harmful,” he said.
Briggs honored for environmental efforts
A Canadian County deputy was honored last week for his efforts to help clean up Canadian County. Jacob Briggs received the individual award from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful during a banquet Nov. 18 in Norman. Briggs, who is Canadian County’s recently appointed environmental deputy, has served in that capacity since 2013 on a part-time basis. In September, the county commissioners accepted a grant that makes the position full-time. The job involves Briggs locating and then investigating illegal dumping of trash, household items and hazardous waste materials within the county. During his career, his work has resulted in several convictions and countless dump site cleanups, officials said. “Jacob’s diligence has resulted in hundreds of cases submitted to district attorneys for criminal prosecution. Jacob is a great example of a deputy with a passion to serve his employer and his community with pride, integrity and selfless dedication,” a statement read at the event said. “It’s nice to be recognized for something I have worked so hard on,” Briggs said. “I’ve gotten a few awards through the sheriff’s office, but this one hits home. It means so much to me because I have worked so diligently to clean up the county,” he said. Briggs said that since he began in 2013, he has located an average of between 1,200 and 1,400 dump sites each year. He said the problem is getting worse. Sheriff Chris West, who attended the awards ceremony with Briggs, said the deputy deserves the honor. “I’m extremely proud of the work Jacob does. He’s a huge asset to the sheriff’s office and county,” West said.