SOUTH SALT LAKE — Officers and health workers have cleared trash and other items from a homeless encampment along the Jordan River in South Salt Lake.
Officers from the South Salt Lake Police Department, workers from the Salt Lake County Health Department, and community volunteers spent hours cleaning up trash from campsites along the Jordan River Parkway Trail Thursday.
South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth said trash and human waste from the campsites pollute the nearby Jordan River.
Carruth said it is illegal for people to camp in the area, but the campsites have been increasing. He said he believes Operation: Rio Grande in Salt Lake City has pushed people into the area.
Officials first warned the people living in the campsites that they cannot be there, then came through a few days later to clean up what was left behind. The last cleanup was about six weeks ago.
“We cleaned up approximately seven to eight camps and roughly 8,000 pounds of trash. Now, that brings us to today, where we’ve got a count of 21 camps – and I’m going to estimate with what you see going out, 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of trash. Somewhere between 15 to 20 large dump truck loads of garbage will be removed from this area,” Carruth said.
Carruth said officers try to direct people in the campsites to shelters where they can get help, but he said several of those people do not want to go to the shelters.
“A lot of them just don’t desire that. They don’t want that resource, and that kind of ties our hands at that point. There are resources available. We do channel them in that direction to try to get them the help they need, but when they decline that, then we have to have a balance,” Carruth said. “We’re not trying to illegalize (the) homeless, but we are trying to enforce transient issues and vagrancy with relation to illegal camping."
Carruth said most people had left the campsites before they began cleaning up, but some were still there. He said they arrested three or four people.