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|Police jurors explore ways to curb parish litter problem|
Parish officials want residents to know that if they illegally dump trash in the parish, they could be filmed doing it.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury plans to have cameras installed in several areas throughout the parish that are considered hot spots for illegal dumping.
Local constables will monitor the cameras and anyone filmed dumping items illegally would be investigated by the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office.
Police jurors Pat Moore and Charles Jackson first brought the idea of litter cameras before other parish leaders after learning of similar efforts in the state. Moore and Jackson attended a local "enviro-school" hosted by the state Department of Environmental Quality where the litter camera concept was discussed.
"We're going to probably expand it once we get some additional dollars," Moore said. "Right now, we have the camera equipment provided by DEQ, and we've brought on the constables and justices of the peace and environmental court if necessary."
She said an awareness campaign will be a major component in the process because the parish wants people to know they aren't simply looking to fine people or put people in jail. However, the police jury needs people's cooperation to improve the litter problem in Ouachita, Moore said.
"We want people to know of the seriousness of this issue and the problems it is creating," Moore said. "One problem is the drainage issue. Usually when we get a call about a drainage problem, it's because of illegal dumping."
"Number two, when you look at our city and our parish, we are trying to bring in businesses, and the cleanliness is one of the things they look at," Moore continued. "We just want people to be responsible and stop this, but if they don't, we have code enforcement to enforce this. This is not about putting somebody in jail but rather to make our neighborhoods and parish better."
She said police jurors Mack Calhoun's and Shane Smiley's districts both have some areas where illegal dumping is occurring frequently. However, in her district and police juror Dorth Blade's district, there are numerous areas they are concerned about, she said.
Ouachita Parish Public Works department provided the police jury with several areas that experience problems with illegal dumping. Cameras will be installed in those areas, Moore said.
Moore discovered that some people who recently moved from the city to the parish thought there was only one trash provider.
"There's a waiting list for some, so people who live in my district thought, 'Well, I can't get anyone to pick my trash up,'" Moore explained. "I had to inform them that there were others in the directory, and a lot of people just didn't know that.
"That was one thing that was creating some of the problems … people didn't have a trash provider, and no one was picking up trash, so they just found a place to dump it. That doesn't sound too intelligent, and it might have just been an excuse, but it's creating problems."
She said the parish has no timeframe of when it will start the new camera project.
In the meantime, she hopes to work with local trash pick-up companies to come up with more solutions to combat illegal dumping.
Some trash pick-up companies do not pick up certain items, and that is the trash that is typically taken somewhere and dumped, Moore said.
She hopes local companies will agree to a "trash district" concept where people could go to a certain area within their district and place those items for pick-up by the companies.
"This service (litter cameras) is just to enforce what the law says, but it's not addressing our real problem," Moore continued. "And, our real problem is we don't have a provider out there to pick up these types of items and haul them off."