The city of Camden recently celebrated a new initiative paid for with a $500,000 federal grant: eliminating illegal dumping in the municipality.
The grant allowed the Camden County Police Department – the city’s force – to purchase more than 100 security cameras that will help officers catch people who dump trash and other waste.
The problem has grown exponentially in recent years, according to officials.
“Illegal dumping isn’t unique to Camden City, but it is a significantly bigger problem,” Congressman Donald Norcross said. “Anyone who has lived in Camden knows that illegal dumping has been a problem for a long time.”
When the opportunity arose for Congress to fund community projects for the first time in a decade, addressing dumping was a priority, Norcross added. According to the county, the new state-of-the-art security cameras come equipped with the ability to read license plates from afar and fast speeds.
Recent data shows that the city has more than 50 active dumping sites illegally used as regular waste areas, according to Camden County.
“It’s a matter of respect, of treating the people who live in Camden City with dignity and holding people who are polluting our neighborhoods accountable,” Norcross said. “This isn’t just about cleaning up garbage. This is about making Camden safer and healthier.
“People live in these neighborhoods,” he added. “They don’t deserve to be treated like somebody else’s trash can.”
In a recent release, County Commissioner Jon Young echoed Norcross and said the board has recently looked to curb the illegal dumping.
“Illegal dumping is an ongoing issue in our community and everyone who lives, works or travels here has to deal with its detrimental consequences,” Young said of Camden. “People, who often times are traveling from outside Camden, are illegally dumping trash, construction materials, hazardous waste and other harmful items that not only contribute to blight in neighborhoods, but also threaten the health and safety of people who call this city home.
“These cameras will give our police department another tool in the fight against illegal dumping,” he added, “hopefully leading to more apprehension and punishment of these violators.”
According to Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen, the city spends more than $4.7 million each year for cleanups at dumping sites, with about 9,500 tons of debris — from car tires to electronics — among the refuse removed by the city.
While the federal grant focuses specifically on illegal dumping in Camden, Young said he’s aware of similar sites around the county. He wants county officials and residents to help combat the issue.
“We still need the community to give their input and challenge people that they might see dumping illegally,” he noted. “Write their license plate down and report it to authorities so that we can all solve this issue together, because we all have skin in the game when it comes to this issue.”