Hidden Identity

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Why were faces obscured in illegal dumping video?

May 24, 2012 - The image above, and the videotape from which it was taken, caused considerable buzz this week.

Illegal dumping is a major problem everywhere in the province, and the Town of Conception Bay South took matters into its own hands, by planting hidden cameras at a number of illegal dumping sites.

They captured images of a couple of people dumping garbage from the back of a pickup truck. According to a news release from the town, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) has laid charges of illegal dumping against a resident of the town, under Section 16 of the Environmental Protection Act. Apparently, he was getting rid of construction materials.

As one of those people who are offended and angered by illegal dumping, I think this is great news. In fact, we need to make the penalties more severe, so that they are on par with poaching – including confiscation of vehicles used in the crime.

But what struck me about the image above were the obscured faces of the alleged perpetrators.

After all, when the accused do the "perp walk” for their court appearances, identities are revealed and faces shown. Why should this be different?

Or did the Town of CBS obscure the photo themselves, before submitting it for public consumption?

I sent an email to Const. Suzanne FitzGerald, who was talking to this issue last week on behalf of the RNC.

“Until an accused person has an information officially sworn in court and the charges are read into the public record, their name and or identity is not released,” FitzGerald replied. “The same applies to photographs released to the media – the identity is not made public until sworn in court.”

The accused is scheduled to appear in provincial court on Oct. 11, 2012. Presumably, at that point we will get to see his face.

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Recent comments

  • David Hebbard
    May 26, 2012 - 07:43

    I think the answer is pretty clear. The photo is evidence and will no doubt be used in court to obtain a conviction. The fact the faces are blurred is an attempt to protect the accused identity until there court appearance. Note the plate is blurred as well. Photos like this belong in an evidence file and not on the front page of a news paper.

  • Shawn Fitzpatrick
    May 24, 2012 - 13:44

    I wonder can the illegal dumping also include coffee cups, Fast Food Hamburger packaging, cigarette packages, and the Butts too? Would it stop short of condoms? No shortage of DNA to be discovered there! I am always appalled at the amount of litter strewn about around fast-food/gas station service bars. This lures unwanted rodent activity. It also reflects poorly on the people as a whole in the province. When you get off a plane in St. John's, you don't have to drive very far before it becomes evident that it's people don't care much about being clean, or about the environment in general. I am personally embarrassed for my fellow citizens when it comes to the trash thrown carelessly about. I do my part a couple of times a year. I do not get a cent for my efforts. In fact, to the contrary, I provide the garbage bags out of my own pocket. THe sad thing is, that personally, if I have as much as a gum wrapper, or even the gum from my mouth for that matter, I find a trash can to dispose of it respectfully. Too bad that the cameras are set up to catch those disposing of construction debris, ONLY! It too is a need to be addressed, but damn, only last week I was out photographing birds in nature along the roadway leading to Petty Harbour, and mere metres from a pristine beaver pond location, there was an automobile engine dumped over the shoulder of the road. Oil residue leaking out of it, and henceforth, leaching into the soil. If this were a leak of your furnace oil from your home tank, you'd likely be tasked to a clean-up amounting into the thousands of dollars. Please, please, please, dispose of your trash responsibly, not like hillbilly's.