New York City Department of Sanitation

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Department of Sanitation
New York City Department of Sanitation flag.png
Department overview
Jurisdiction New York City
Headquarters 125 Worth Street
New York, NY
Motto New York's Strongest
Employees 7,200 uniformed sanitation workers and supervisors
2,041 civilian employees
Department executive
  • Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of Sanitation
Key document

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is the department of the government of New York City[1] responsible for garbage collection, recycling collection, street cleaning, and snow removal.


The New York City Department of Sanitation is the largest sanitation department in the world, with 7,201 uniformed sanitation workers and supervisors, 2,041 civilian workers, 2,230 general collection trucks, 275 specialized collection trucks, 450 street sweepers, 365 salt and sand spreaders, 298 front end loaders, and 2,360 support vehicles. It handles over 12,000 tons of residential and institutional refuse and recyclables a day.[2] It has a uniformed force of unionized sanitation workers (Local 831 USA of the Teamsters). Its regulations are compiled in Title 16 of the New York City Rules.

Rank Structure

There are nine uniformed titles in the New York City Department of Sanitation.

From highest to lowest, the uniformed titles are:

Title Insignia
General Superintendent Level V (Director: Bureau of Cleaning and Collection/Solid Waste Management) (4 STAR CHIEF)
4 Gold Stars.svg
General Superintendent Level IV (3 STAR Chief)
3 Gold Stars.svg
General Superintendent Level III (Assistant Chief) (2 STAR CHIEF)
2 Gold Stars.svg
General Superintendent Level II (Deputy Chief) (1 STAR CHIEF)
1 Gold Star.svg
General Superintendent Level I (Super)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
Sanitation Worker

Law Enforcement

The New York City Department of Sanitation has its own police force, dating to 1936,[3] that is currently composed of four specialized units:

  • The Uniformed Sanitation Police Force
  • The illegal dumping task force
  • The Permit and Inspection Unit
  • The Environmental Police Unit

Uniformed and undercover officers handle sanitation-related emergency calls and enforce sanitation-related and state and city traffic and criminal laws in the 5 boroughs of New York City. DSNY police officers are New York State peace officers certified by the New York State Municipal Training Council. Officers may carry a firearm, carry and use handcuffs, make warrantless arrests, issue summonses, and use physical and even deadly force. The police force uses both marked and unmarked police cars.[4]

Bureaus and Units

BCC: Bureau of Cleaning and Collection

The Bureau of Cleaning and Collection is responsible for collecting recycling and garbage, cleaning streets and vacant lots, and clearing streets of snow and ice. BCC assigns personnel and equipment to standard routes while managing the weekly allocation of personnel to address litter and illegal dumping.

The Cleaning Office oversees the removal of litter and debris from city streets, collects material for recycling and garbage from public litter bins and coordinates with Derelict Vehicle Operations to remove abandoned vehicles. The Lot Cleaning Unit cleans vacant lots and the areas around them, and around city-owned buildings in order to meet the city's Health Code standards.

The Collection Office oversees regularly scheduled recycling and garbage collection services to the city's residential households, public schools, public buildings, and many large institutions

SWM: Solid Waste Management

The Solid Waste Management Unit is responsible for the disposal of all municipal solid waste and recyclables managed by DSNY, and for long-term waste export programs. The unit consists of Solid Waste Management Engineering, the Export Contract Management Unit, marine and land-based transfer stations, and the Fresh Kills landfill and long-term export programs.

The Export Contract Management Unit handles DSNY contracts with private vendors who operate municipal solid waste disposal facilities, including transfer stations and waste-to-energy plants. DSNY also has city-owned and operated transfer stations.

Solid Waste Management Engineering is principally responsible for the design, construction, closure and post-closure care, and end-use development of the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills landfill. It also develops and implements long-term waste export programs and the city's Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan for 2006–2025 and the Solid Waste Management Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement.

BIT: Bureau of Information Technology

The Bureau of Information Technology manages all aspects of computing and technology for DSNY, including networks, databases, software, devices, and technical support.

The bureau designed the Sanitation Management Analysis and Resource Tracking (SMART) system, a web-based mobile system that provides DSNY field forces with digital operations, scheduling, and reporting technology, and gives DSNY management instant access to real-time operational information. It is integrated with citywide systems such as GIS mapping services, fleet management, building management, human resources, and purchasing and financial applications.

BOO: Bureau Operations Office

The Bureau Operations Office is DSNY's primary communications center, handling interagency and intra-agency communications. To ensure efficient communications, the radio room maintains and monitors citywide radio communications, equipment repair, upgrades, maintenance, and inventory.

The Bureau oversees all DSNY facilities, administers the expense budget, and controls fuel and lubricant inventories, as well as tools and supplies for citywide use. It also plans and directs citywide snow operations, including staffing plans, maintaining the fleet of snow fighting equipment, and maintaining an inventory of salt and calcium chloride to cover the needs of the snow season.

The Bureau's Equipment and Facilities Unit works closely with Support Services to make sure that DSNY facilities receive constant monitoring, repairs, renovation, and emergency intervention. The Bureau works closely with the Real Estate Division to properly plan for new facilities from an operational standpoint.

OMD: Operations Management Division

The Operations Management Division provides statistical review and analysis for evaluating DSNY's managerial and operational performance, including, most recently, a comprehensive review and sweeping redevelopment of the methodology used for citywide snow clearing operations. The division provides performance results to executive staff, field managers, and the public, to provide insight into organizational performance and help evaluate future initiatives. OMD also develops all departmental forms and provides reprographic services for the agency.

DSNY's Enterprise Geospatial Program Management Office, established in 2014, adds additional rigor to Operations Management functions by enabling and promoting purposeful geospatial data consumption and analysis throughout the agency, as well as the innovative technologies that make them possible. Its core objectives are to:

  • Develop and maintain centralized and authoritative geospatial data stores and guarantee their integrity, accuracy and security
  • Make geospatial data widely available and accessible across the agency via delivery through a combination of cutting-edge web applications and database technologies
  • Provide leadership to align geospatial strategic planning, data standards and policies, tactical implementation and operational capability in accordance with DSNY's performance goals

PMD: Personnel Management Division

The Personnel Management Division coordinates with Human Resources on employee-related personal actions, such as the hiring process of new sanitation workers, promotions, demotions, employee evaluations, disciplinary matters, separation of service, and employee hardships. It also monitors the electronic disciplinary system for accuracy, and acts as the liaison between the Department Advocate and the field operations of the Bureau of Cleaning and Collection and the Solid Waste Management Unit. The division allocates general superintendents, supervisors, civilians, and sanitation workers assigned to medical-duty to support daily Cleaning and Collection field operations.

DST: Division of Safety and Training

The Division of Safety and Training is responsible for all administrative and operational training to ensure that DSNY employees have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely and effectively in a hazard-free work place. Italso has the jurisdiction to enforce federal, state, city, and departmental laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to safe motor vehicle operation and work procedures, building maintenance, and driver's license requirements.

Responsibilities include developing and maintaining programs and training, investigating serious line-of-duty injuries and vehicular accidents, conducting orientation programs for new and recently promoted uniformed employees, and facilitating department-wide walk-throughs for workplace violence surveys and facility E-waste, standpipe, and sprinkler inspections.

BME: Bureau of Motor Equipment

The Bureau of Motor Equipment provides a full range of fleet-related functions, such as design, research and development, procurement, maintenance, repair, and ultimately disposal of DSNY vehicles. All of these functions are performed through four main operating divisions — BME Field Operations, Materiel Management, and Vehicle Acquisition and Warranty Division, and Central Repair Shop Operations.

BBM: Bureau of Building Maintenance

The Bureau of Building Maintenance has responsibility for maintaining garages, transfer stations, repair shops, and office buildings throughout the five boroughs. The bureau employs carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other skilled trades who provide routine maintenance, facility rehabilitation, and emergency repairs. Together with Legal Affairs and Engineering, the Bureau of Building Maintenance ensures that DSNY facilities are in compliance with all federal, state, and local oversight regulations. The Bureau also works with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to secure funding for energy reduction programs and to achieve carbon dioxide emission goals.

Enforcement Division

The Enforcement Division monitors compliance with administrative, recycling, and health laws governing the maintenance of clean streets, illegal posting and dumping, theft of recyclables, and proper storage and disposal of recycling and garbage by residents and businesses.

Sanitation Police Officers are DSNY workers or supervisors who are trained, armed peace officers. Sanitation Enforcement Agents are unarmed civilians who undergo a comprehensive classroom and field-training program.

The Enforcement Division's Canine Unit patrols throughout the city and issue notices of violation for quality-of-life violations, such as unleashed dogs, littering, and failure to remove canine waste and noxious liquids.

Environmental Police and the Permit Inspection Unit

The primary responsibility of the Permit Inspection Unit is the enforcement of Local Law 40, governing the permit and inspection processes of solid waste transfer stations and fill material operations within the city. Environmental police officers conduct regular inspections to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations relating to these activities.

The Permit Inspection Unit issues permits and conducts regular inspections of putrescible and non-putrescible transfer stations, fill material transfer stations, and fill material operations that involve the grading, leveling, or improvement of property. It also plays a main role in identifying and closing illegal transfer stations and dump sites, and works closely with DSNY Legal Affairs and various city, state, and federal agencies.

The Environmental Police Unit enforces Local Laws 70 and 75, governing the storage, transportation, and disposal of asbestos and regulated medical waste. Environmental police officers respond to incidents involving the improper disposal of chemicals, household hazardous waste, low-level radioactive waste, and medical waste. The unit also conducts inspections of hospitals and nursing homes to ensure proper disposal of regulated medical waste, and inspects medical practices operating in multi-dwelling buildings to ensure compliance with Local Law 41.

Legal Affairs

The Bureau of Legal Affairs is DSNY's in- – house legal department which has various divisions, including Contracts, Environmental Affairs, Intergovernmental, the Advocate's Office and the Agency Chief Contracting Office. These divisions provide legal counsel, advice, and assistance to the other bureaus in connection with procuring and managing contracts, drafting and enforcing statutes and regulations, regulating solid waste transfer stations, and working with other government departments and agencies.

The Bureau serves as DSNY's liaison with the City Council and State Legislature, manages DSNY's City Environmental Quality Review processes, coordinates DSNY's responses to Freedom of Information Law requests for documents, and provides litigation support to the City's Law Department in connection with lawsuits involving DSNY. The Bureau provides legal counsel on employment and personnel matters, is DSNY's advisor on the legal aspects of environmental compliance efforts, and works closely with DSNY engineers to resolve controversies, allow construction projects to continue, and avoid disputes and litigation.

District Garages


Brooklyn North

Brooklyn South


Queens East

Queens West

Staten Island



Like the rest of New York's uniformed forces, the rank and file have a collective nickname: "New York's Strongest," a term coined by Harry Nespoli, long-time President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 831, to describe the Department of Sanitation's football team in the late 1970s to early 1980s.[6] The section of Worth Street between Centre and Baxter Streets in Manhattan is named "Avenue of the Strongest" in their honor.


Prior to 1881, a Street Cleaning Bureau functioned under the New York City Police Department. However, streets were filthy, filled with mud, rubbish, ash, and horse urine and manure. On May 29, 1881, all the bureau's books and papers were transferred from the police headquarters in anticipation of the passage of a law creating a new administrative structure and the separate Department of Street Cleaning.[7] On May 30, the bill enacting the Department of Street Cleaning was signed by Governor of New York Alonzo B. Cornell. However, Henry H. Gorringe, who had been asked to serve as the inaugural commissioner by Mayor William R. Grace, had been hoping for a different bill and declined the position, stating that it was a "delusion and snare from beginning to end", and that he would have had to answer to "five different areas of city government - the Mayoralty, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the Board of Health, the Police Board, and the Department of Street Cleaning," with the latter having the least effective power.[8] Instead, several days later, James S. Coleman became the first commissioner, and held the position for 8 years.[9][10][11]

In 1894, Col. George E. Waring, Jr. became commissioner, and he was credited with substantially cleaning the streets, as well as pioneering recycling, street sweeping, and the establishment of a uniformed cleaning and collection force.[12] The department's name was changed to the Department of Sanitation in 1929.[13]


  • Col. George Waring, Jr. (1895–98)
  • William F. Carey (1936–45)
  • Robert Groh (1974–76)
  • Anthony Vaccarello (1976–78)
  • Norman Steisel (1978–86)
  • Brendan Sexton (1986–90)
  • Steven Polan (1990–92)
  • Emily Lloyd (1992–94)
  • John Doherty (1994–98, 2002–14)
  • Kevin Farrell (1999–2001)
  • Kathryn Garcia (2014–present)


  • 1968: Sanitation workers had been without a contract for six months when they rejected Mayor John Lindsay's proposal and went on strike on February 2. As the garbage on the streets of New York City accumulated to over 100,000 tons, negotiations between Lindsay and union leaders went poorly. Finally, on February 10, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller stepped in, offering a $425 wage increase and future arbitration, which the workers agreed to and ended the strike.[14]
  • 1975: A wildcat strike took place in 1975 from July 2 to 4 in the midst of a budget crisis for New York City before workers returned to work under the provision that they would put up their own money to guarantee payroll if the city legislation could not get the tax increase necessary.[15]
  • 1981: Workers went on strike just after midnight on December 1 to demand a wage increase and remained out until December 17.[16]

See also



  1. ^ New York City Charter Chapter 31, § 751; "There shall be a department of sanitation the head of which shall be the commissioner of sanitation."
  2. ^ About DSNY
  3. ^ "Sanitation Police Formed by Carey - 150 Men First of Staff of 800 to Be Sworn as Patrolmen to Enforce Laws - Summonses to be Served - Object of New Drive Is to Rid Streets of Garbage, Ashes and Other Refuse". New York Times. July 9, 1936. p. 23. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  4. ^ DSNY Police Cars
  5. ^ DSNY District Map. Retrieved 2015-Feb-15.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "The Street-Cleaning Bureau Moved". New York Times. May 30, 1881. p. 5. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "The New Street-Cleaning Law - Lieut.-Commander Gorringe Declines to Serve as Commissioner". New York Times. May 31, 1881. p. 1. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "The New Commissioner - Mr. James S. Coleman Appointed to Clean the Streets". New York Times. June 5, 1881. p. 12. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "Mr. Coleman Assumes Charge - He Promises to Give the City Clean Streets If Possible". New York Times. June 17, 1881. p. 8. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  11. ^ "Coleman Gives Up Office - His Resignation Sent to the Mayor - But Before He Wrote His Letter Mayor Grant Had Asked The Board of Health to Remove Him". New York Times. December 31, 1889. p. 1. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Trying to Clean Up New York, Gotham Gazette, August 16, 2004
  13. ^ "Schroeder Heads Sanitation Board - Quits as Hospital Commissioner as He Is Sworn In by Walker for New City Post - Two Aides To Be Named - Street Cleaning Department's Work Will Be Taken Over by Body Created at Last Election". New York Times. December 1, 1929. p. 20. Retrieved 4 October 2016. 
  14. ^ Untapped Cities. "Today in NYC History: The Great Garbage Strike of 1968." Retrieved 2015-Jun-29.
  15. ^ "Beame's gimmick ends N.Y. garbage strike." Chicago Tribune. 1975 Jul 4. Retrieved 2015-Jun-29.
  16. ^ NYC, 1981. "The Christmas Trash Strike of 1981." Young, Greg. Retrieved 2015-Jun-29.

External links

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