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TRASH CAMS: County moves toward using hidden camera video as tool to crack down on illegal dumping
by Joe Baker
Apr 12, 2012 | 1036 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A discarded hot tub and old sofas sit along the edge of County Road 125 at a location a few miles east of Kenedy. County officials and a special committee are considering installing video surveilance cameras wherever needed to help catch individuals who are illegally dumping in areas around Karnes County.
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KARNES CITY – Karnes County officials are going hunting.

But they don’t have their sights set on deer, wild hogs, or any other type of wild game – they are going after a “two-legged” animal – an elusive animal known as the “litterbug” whose bad habits they say are getting out of control.

Resident Meta Sparks brought the issue of the ever-worsening problem with trash and litter on local roadways to Commissioners Court in recent meetings, and this sparked a discussion among the commissioners and county judge in regards of what would be the best course of action they could take to fight the problem.

After discussing ideas such as having state prisoners and other local offenders pick up trash, hiring a county trash collection employee, or coordinating local volunteer trash collection efforts, it was decided that a better approach might be to tackle the issue from the enforcement side.

During a recent meeting of Commissioners Court, Sheriff David Jalufka said that it is very difficult to make such charges without hard evidence, and he suggested that the county make an effort to use video cameras to collect video evidence showing people in the act of illegal dumping.

County Commissioner James Rosales said he thought the county should arrest or issue citations to individuals who are caught illegally dumping trash.

“I think what we have got to do – in my opinion – is to put those cameras up and bust these people,” Rosales said during the March 13 meeting of Commissioners Court. “We need to bust them. We need to cost them a thousand or two or three thousand dollars and embarrassment on the front page. That’s going to work.”

Rosales said spending funds to pick up the trash would only encourage illegal dumpers to continue with illegal dumping, as the worst offenders would learn that they could continue to dump trash illegally and the county would then just come along behind them to pick it up.

The commissioner said such enforcement would have to be applied fairly.

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” Rosales said. “It doesn’t matter what race you are. It doesn’t matter what family you come from or who you are related to. They get charges put on them, just like the next person. We know the justice system sucks, sometimes. I am saying that if we are going to push it, let’s push it on everybody – it doesn’t matter if it’s my momma that does it.”

County officials appointed members to a new litter control committee including members Meta Sparks, Commissioner Carl Hummel and Cheryl Moy.

Commissioner Hummel presented info on different game cameras that are available during the March 30 meeting of Commissioners Court.

County officials discussed the prices and different options available for cameras of this kind.

Hummel said the cameras vary in price between $100 and $400 and he suggested finding cameras that don’t have “flashing lights” in order to keep them more hidden.

Kenedy Police Chief Duane DuBose, who was at the March 30 meeting, suggested moving the cameras frequently to different locations. DuBose said his department has found these kinds of cameras very useful in obtaining evidence and solving crimes.

Sheriff Jalufka suggested having road and bridge employees set up and move the cameras as needed.

County Commissioner Pete Jauer said the county should set a limit on how much should be spent on such cameras. Jauer suggested buying three cameras and move them to different locations as needed.

Litter Control Committee member Cheryl Moy, told county officials that the problem is continuing to get worse and worse as each week goes by.

“We need to get our community looking nice again,” Moy said.

County officials took no action on the purchase of cameras, but agreed to call a meeting of the litter control committee and then bring the committee’s purchase recommendations back to Commissioners Court for approval at a later date.
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