NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – They are on the front line in the city’s war on quality of life violations.

New York City’s undercover Sanitation police fight crime, and grime.

CBS2’s Marcia Kramer went undercover with them.

Lieutenant Hector Marrero puts on a bulletproof vest to get ready for his 2p-10p shift as an undercover Sanitation cop. Since Kramer was going with him, she had to put one on too.

Cracking down on quality of life violations can be dangerous. Two years ago, Marrero stopped a guy trying to steal recycling.

“He actually punched my partner in the mouth,” Marrero said. “He tried to grab my firearm. He was telling me he was going to shoot me.”

Undercover Sanitation police issue tickets for all kinds of things, like dirty sidewalks, dogs off the leash, people who don’t pick up after their pets, littering, and discarding harmful materials.

What’s the thing they see the most of?

“Actually, public urination,” Marrero said.

Last year the Sanitation Department issued over 456,000 tickets, including 100,000 for recycling, 65,000 for dirty sidewalks, 717 for public urination, 655 for littering, 372 for dogs without leashes and 214 for failure to remove canine waste.

Driving around the Bronx, Marrero and his partner Steve Aponte saw things that frustrated them because the culprit had already fled.

“That’s something we would impound someone’s vehicle for,” Marrero said.

He was talking about people who illegally dump construction waste, which carries a $20,000 fine. So does dumping tires and dumping garbage.

Lt. Marrero and the agents who work under them to be careful when they see bags of debris that have been dumped.

“We had an officer catch someone illegal dumping and in the bags were body parts,” Marrero said.

During the shift Kramer was with them, Officer Aponte ticketed a huge trailer left on the street, which is a huge problem in New York. And there was a littering citation give to Hector Martinez for dumping a plastic bag of debris on the street corner.

“Make sure you record it!” Martinez said.

He was furious at getting a $75 ticket and wanted the last word.

“You don’t have nothing better to do,” Martinez said.

The Sanitation Department has 305 undercover police officers who take their jobs seriously. Their answer to Martinez is no.