At this point, it should come as no surprise that government organizations will go far out of their way to write a citation, but the steps New York sanitation officers are now taking in order to find out if residents are following recycling protocol is one of the most absurd in recent memory. While the trash police may sound like rejected cartoon characters, they are a very real nuisance who are actively invading the privacy of New York City residents under the guise of protecting the environment.
Video footage that was recently posted on Facebook shows two sanitation officers digging through people’s trash in order to see if they have been “recycling properly.” In a clear invasion of privacy, the officers feel around enclosed garbage bags in hopes of finding recyclable items. If they feel anything suspicious during their over-the-bag investigation, they open up the bag and sift through it. Considering the abundance of personal, private items that are disposed through an individual’s garbage, it is beyond alarming that these sanitation officers have the right to search through trash bags in hopes of writing tickets to generate revenue. The man recording the video asks one of the officers why he is writing tickets, leading to a discussion about the unjust nature of their actions. Even the officers seem to know that what they are doing is morally wrong.
Not even considering the issues concerning privacy, the fines associated with improper recycling etiquette can carry a hefty weight. While the first offense only warrants a $25 ticket, the second is $50, followed by $100 for the third and a whopping $500 fine for four or more offenses over a period of six months. This protocol was supposedly put in place in order to promote recycling, but it indisputably violates the Fourth Amendment, as thumbing through someone’s trash certainly qualifies as an unreasonable search and seizure. Unless these sanitation officers show up with a warrant, what they are doing in New York is unconstitutional and needs to end immediately.