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New York sanitation police caught digging through resident's trash, issuing $500 fines for improper recycling

Recycling police

(NaturalNews) A video of a Boro Park resident raging at New York sanitation officers digging through resident's trash was posted on the Yeshiva World News Facebook page May 31.

The video has caused a lot of commotion and raises questions about whether opening up trash bags to cite people for not recycling properly violates the privacy laws under the Fourth Amendment.

According to the man who was recording the video, there is definitely something not right as he openly ventilates his anger when police officers target his neighborhood.

He first walks up to a female officer and asks: "Officer, could you tell me why you're taking out garbage from people's houses in order to give tickets?"

Without giving her any chance to reply, he then targets a male officer with the same question.

After the officer replies that he is not recycling properly the man goes into overdrive and starts screaming:

"Now, you took out garbage from residents' house[s] where I have a few witnesses behind you that you took out garbage in order to give summonses. I want to know how you dare do something like that! I think you have the nerve to do something like this! You go from one resident to another in order to take out garbage because you want to give out summonses!"

He then continues to repeat the same message, accusing the officers of upsetting the block and making revenue by taking out garbage from residents' houses.

Watch the full video here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0EiEk7xaCQ].

Do sanitation officers have the right to search through people's trash?

Were these officers looking for trouble to generate revenue or were they solemnly doing their job?

Recycling is mandatory under NYC's local law. Therefore, the New York City Department of Sanitation has its own police force to keep the city clean. These "Sanitation Peace Officers" are responsible for a broad range of tasks going from summoning residents for mixing recyclable and non-recyclable trash to investigating the illegal dumping of private, commercial, and toxic waste.

Once you put the garbage out on the sidewalk, it is no longer considered private property and can, therefore, be searched by police officers. However, trespassing laws may be violated when these bags are taken from private properties, instead of the sidewalk.

If the latter is true, then the sanitation police had no right to search the bags and fine these people.

$500 fines for improper recycling

To keep the city clean, New York citizens must do their part and recycle or face the consequences.

"As a New York City resident, I must recycle," Jeff Stier, a New Yorker, and senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research said. "If I don't recycle, there will be a $25 fine the first time, a $50 fine the second time, a $100 fine for the third violation, and a $500 fine for four or more violations within a six-month period."

He further notes that there is no other way for the sanitation officers then to open the trash bags to determine if someone is violating the recycling laws.

"They feel your garbage bags. If they feel that there is a recyclable item in your trash bag, they will open it up and check. They can't give you a fine without knowing what's in there. So, they're looking into your garbage in order to give you a fine," said Stier.

In 2015, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit against the implementation of a similar law in Seattle where sanitation officers were digging through people's trash to make sure food scraps were not going into the garbage.

Recently, the King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus has ruled that Seattle's ordinance allowing garbage collectors to look through people's trash is "unconstitutional and void."

Sources for this article include:

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