NYC Bill to Pay Citizens to Snitch on Environmental Violations

Eric Blair
Activist Post

If you want a glimpse of our future totalitarian surveillance society, look no farther than New York City. Two city lawmakers want to reward citizens to spy on their neighbors’ supposed environmental crimes.

New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection currently fines people for leaving their vehicles idling longer than three minutes. Yes, really. Apparently warming up your car during the record cold winters is contributing to global warming and must be stopped.

Much to the chagrin of power-thirsty bureaucrats, enforcement of this infraction only yielded $93,010 in revenue last year. So lawmakers are seeking to boost revenue by sharing fines with citizen snitches who provide the DEP with video evidence of idling vehicles.

According to the New York Post:

Two city lawmakers want to recruit everyday New Yorkers to help battle the scourge of idling vehicles by paying them for video footage that results in fines.

City Council members Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens) will introduce a bill Wednesday that would give citizens up to 50 percent of the summons revenue if they catch someone breaking the idling law, take a video and submit it to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The exact cut for videographers would be determined by the DEP, they said. But citizen enforcers could makes hundreds — even thousands — of dollars. 

The bill would keep first-time idling violations punishable by just a warning, but would boost fines for second offenses to between $350 and $1,500. 

Any subsequent violations within a two-year period would yield even heftier fines of between $440 and $2,000.

Citizens seeking to cash in on their videos would first have to undergo training by the DEP, which would be offered five days per year under current plans.

“On my block alone, I could produce 20 tickets a day, easily,” said banker George Pakenham, an anti-idling advocate who made a documentary on the issue called “Idle Threat” in 2012.



Clearly, we’re in the midst of a growing “See Something, Say Something” snitch culture that until now only promised Good Samaritan status to nosy neighbors who report such non-crimes as children playing outside unattended.

Lawmakers admit that they’re powerless to enforce arbitrary “laws” like these without revenue-sharing schemes.

“We can pass these laws, we’ve strengthened the fines…but the real problem is enforcement,” said Manhattan Democrat Helen Rosenthal. “You’re obviously upping the interest by having people share in the fine.”

Giving financial incentives to these social nannies could make them rich according to the banker George Pakenham. “This will be just the tonic to have people engaged and earn a great deal of money along the way,” he told the NY Post.

As economic opportunities in the US continue to decline, programs like this will certainly have some appeal to many more people than just the wannabe good Samaritans.

What’s next? Paying citizens to report expired license plates, excessive late-night light usage, recycling breaches, and other victimless non-crimes?

Eric Blair writes and curates news for Activist Post. You may repost this article in full anywhere on the Internet with attribution.

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