Cracking down to clean up the community

Law enforcement is cracking down to clean up the Palmetto state.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) -- Law enforcement is cracking down to clean up the Palmetto state.

Wednesday morning, members from the Columbia Police Department and The City's Sanitation Department cleaned up camp sites where they suspected homeless individuals had stayed.

Chief Deputy Ruben Santiago said that they discovered the urban camp sites in the woods of South East Park in Columbia during a murder investigation.

Last week a homeless man's body was found in a pond at the park, which prompted police to search the grounds.

The camp sites that were found were off of a path, not too far from where park visitors frequent.

Santiago said that they have seen these types of camp sites before in other areas and whenever they are reported the Columbia Police Department will get them cleared up as soon as they can.

"In the City of Columbia we have an ordinance called Urban Camping. It's not healthy for our environment and it's not healthy for our community," said Santiago.

Santiago also said that their Department assisting in any types of community clean up is very much a part of a bigger initiative.

The Zero Tolerance for Litter is a month long campaign in April that kicked off Wednesday at the State House.

Workers from the city, state, businesses and law enforcement gathered at the state house and stood united on the steps in support of campaign.

One of the speakers at the event was Linda Shadel who works for PalmettoPride, a non-profit against littering.

"We noticed in the last 12 years,in order for people to clean things up that it was going to take a little bite and that bite was going to be law enforcement," said Shadel.

Captain Chris Cowan of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, also spoke Wednesday at the press conference, saying that cracking down on those who litter helps with other crimes.

"We've stopped somebody for just flicking a cigarette butt, or we've stopped at an area where we've had illegal dump sights and we've been able to do some research and find there are other crimes at are occurring," said Cowan.

He then added that stopping people for littering has led to finding drugs,weapons, and people who are on the run.