Forums - Politics Discussion - Portland officials say it is ok for law enforcement to take your garbage, so journalist took their garbage!

http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-1616-rubbish.html-2

 

Kind of hilarious!

It's past midnight. Over the whump of the wipers and the screech of the fan belt, we lurch through the side streets of Southeast Portland in a battered white van, double-checking our toolkit: flashlight, binoculars, duct tape, scissors, watch caps, rawhide gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves, trash bags, 30-gallon can, tarpaulins, Sharpie, notebook--notebook?

Well, yes. Technically, this is a journalistic exercise--at least, that's what we keep telling ourselves. We're upholding our sacred trust as representatives of the Fourth Estate. Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable.Pushing the reportorial envelope--by liberating the trash of Portland's top brass.

We didn't dream up this idea on our own. We got our inspiration from the Portland police.

Back in March, the police swiped the trash of fellow officer Gina Hoesly. They didn't ask permission. They didn't ask for a search warrant. They just grabbed it. Their sordid haul, which included a bloody tampon, became the basis for drug charges against her (see "Gross Violation," below).

The news left a lot of Portlanders--including us--scratching our heads. Aren't there rules about this sort of thing? Aren't citizens protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment?

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office doesn't think so. Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property.

"She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way," McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. "There were no signs on the garbage, 'Do not open. Do not trespass.' There was every indication...she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest."

Police Chief Mark Kroeker echoed this reasoning. "Most judges have the opinion that [once] trash is put out...it's trash, and abandoned in terms of privacy,"he told WW.

In fact, it turns out that police officers throughout Oregon have been rummaging through people's trash for more than three decades. Portland drug cops conduct"garbage pulls" once or twice per month, says narcotics Sgt. Eric Schober.

On Dec. 10, Maurer rubbished this practice. Scrutinizing garbage, she declared, is an invasion of privacy: The police must obtain a search warrant before they swipe someone's trash.

Each, in his or her own way, has endorsed the notion that you abandon your privacy when you set your trash out on the curb. So we figured they wouldn't mind too much if we took a peek at theirs.

Boy, were we wrong.

Perched in his office on the 15th floor of the Justice Center, Chief Kroeker seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea of trash as public property.

"Things inside your house are to be guarded," he told WW. "Those that are in the trash are open for trash men and pickers and--and police. And so it's not a matter of privacy anymore."

Then we spread some highlights from our haul on the table in front of him.

"This is very cheap," he blurted out, frowning as we pointed out a receipt with his credit-card number, a summary of his wife's investments, an email prepping the mayor about his job application to be police chief of Los Angeles, a well-chewed cigar stub, and a handwritten note scribbled in pencil on a napkin, so personal it made us cringe. We also drew his attention to a newsletter from the conservative political advocacy group Focus on the Family, addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mark Kroeker."

"Are you a member of Focus on the Family?" we asked.

"No," the chief replied.

"Is your wife?"

"You know," he said, with a Clint Eastwood gaze, "it's none of your business."

As we explained our thinking, the chief, who is usually polite to a fault, cut us off in mid sentence. "OK," he said, suddenly standing up, "we're done."

 

lol read the rest at the link at the top/.....



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It's actually an interesting legal conundrum. I can understand both standpoints. I guess this should be decided by a higher judge.



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