They broke the law in a way that offends most people. But does making them go viral help anything?
Back in July, a couple was caught on camera illegally dumping trash - car tires, televisions, and other debris - into a wildlife preserve in Hocking County, Ohio.
At first, police were not able to identify the couple but they had video of the incident. So, they posted that video to their Facebook page asking for help.
As it turns out, the police were able to eventually identify the couple on their own and in August charged them with a misdemeanors for illegal dumping and driving a vehicle in an unlicensed area.
However, since the time the video was first posted it has gone viral, with nearly a million people viewing the footage on the police department’s Facebook page alone.
After charging the couple with a crime, the department also chose to publicly share their names on the same viral Facebook video post.
Needless to say, most of the comments have been mean, some even vicious. And it raises a question over whether sharing their names is truly in the best interest of the public.
***UPDATE***UPDATE***UPDATE***UPDATE***Based on tips we received as a direct result of this post, we identified the two individuals. The Ohio Division of Wildlife, with the assistance of the Perry County Sheriff’s Office and their Litter Control Deputy, made contact with the two who confessed to dumping items at multiple locations.Corey Webb and Amanda Pyke, both of Perry County, were charged with Littering on State Property and Operating a Vehicle in a Non-Designated Area, both of which are misdemeanors.The Hocking County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio Division of Wildlife would like to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who assisted with identifying the pair.***UPDATE***UPDATE***UPDATE***UPDATE***The Hocking County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio Division of Wildlife is asking for the public's assistance in identifying two individuals in an trash dumping investigation. In July, a male and female were captured on video illegally dumping various items inclusing televisions and tires on Sand Run Road in a Wildlife Preserve Area. If you have information on the identity of the two individuals, please contact the Hocking County Sheriff's Office at 740-385-2131 or by sending us a message.Posted by Hocking County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, August 29, 2018
They’ll pay for their crime as they should -- but do they deserve to be publicly shamed?
The Hocking County Police Department certainly did nothing illegal by sharing the couple’s name. And it’s within reason to argue that a “public shaming” of this sort could help deter future potential dumpers from unloading their trash in a wildlife preserve.
At the same time, there’s a lot we don’t know about the couple, whom we are choosing to not name in this article.
Surely, they knew dumping trash was illegal. But what we don’t know is why they did it - was it for economic reasons, a lack of understanding about accessible options for discarding trash, or something else? While it’s possible they were twirling their proverbial mustaches as they did this, it seems more likely the couple wanted an easy way to dump their trash and weren’t too concerned about where they left it.
That’s not good. But now their names are forever in the public eye and not just in the sense that they are available to the public record.
Social media has increasingly become a platform to shame people -- causing excessive destructive to people’s personal lives when anonymous audiences spew hellfire through the protection of digital walls.
What do you think?
Should the police have posted their names or simply said the crime had been solved and entered the name into the public record where concerned citizens or journalists could track it down?