Report: Hundreds of people who ratted out businesses that stayed open have their information put online

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ST LOUIS COUNTY, MO – Recent times have shown the divide between citizens’ takes on the concept of contacting police for violations related to social distancing and the operation of non-essential businesses.

However, over 900 residents in Missouri found out the hard way that the state’s Sunshine Law makes all tipsters’ reports on said violations public record.

The Sunshine Law of Missouri reads:

“It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.”

Most are likely aware of the derogatory connotation that comes with the term “snitching.”

While the term has been used to describe the act of informing authorities of criminal activity, which on it’s face is actually a good thing for society, what happens when the definition of criminal activity rapidly changes?

Say, for instance, a small business that was once perfectly legal to operate is forcibly shut down via executive order. Perhaps the act of someone inviting friends and family into their homes now being made a citable violation.

This isn’t something you have to imagine; it’s actively happening in portions of the country.

St. Louis County reached out to the public to ask for their assistance in reporting violations related to large gatherings, social distancing violations, and businesses remaining open that were deemed non-essential.

The county had established an email address where citizens could report any of the above, and had amassed over 900 tips in one weeks’ time.

Then, those who dropped dimes on their proverbial neighbors realized that one savvy individual had used an existing law to get a copy of every single report filed.

A Facebook profile under the name of Jared Totsch shared all the documents online, and captioned the post with the following:

“Here ya go. The gallery of snitches, busybodies, and employees who rat out their own neighbors and employers over the Panic-demic.”

Apparently, the online form citizens used forewarned them that their information could be outed due to public information laws.

One local who had their information made public stated the following about it: 

“We’re in a society where doing what’s right doesn’t always get rewarded.”

Yet, the entire scenario has sparked a debate of whether there’s anything “right” about reporting those among the community to suffer consequences for what many argue as Constitutionally protected activities like running a lawfully-compliant business. 

When Totsch was asked about whether he was concerned about possible backlash being directed at the persons who revealed identifying information on their online submission forms to authorities, he stated the following:

“If they are worried about retaliation, they should have read the fine print which stated their tips would be open public record subject to a Sunshine request, and should not have submitted tips in that manner to begin with. I released the info in an attempt to discourage such behavior in the future.”

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Totsch was asked how he would feel if any of those identified individuals in the reports lost their jobs over them reporting businesses, as the revealed documents showed people reporting even their own employers.

The way Totsch sees it, it would be a comeuppance for the individuals:

“I’d call it poetic justice, instant Karma, a dose of their own medicine. What goes around, comes around. They are now experiencing the same pain that they themselves helped to inflict on those they filed complaints against.”

Law Enforcement Today obtained a copy of the 912-page document in question. While we won’t share any identifiable information from said document, the irony in some of the “tips” emailed to the county carried some ironic messages in light of the released information.

One person who had their name revealed due to their email address sent the following complaint to the county:

“I don’t want my name known…but why are vape shops (vapor connection fenton mo stl county), smoke shops in Manchester, game stop in Fenton and Manchester, allowed to be open? What exactly is essential there???”

However, not every portion of the document was people being a tattletale.

Some emails sent to the county were desperate pleas for clarification as to whether they were still allowed to work if they were a small business. One person asked:

“I clean houses by myself for a living. [I’m an] llc in Missouri [and] was getting ready to hire then this came up. So, can I tell my [customers] that I can or can’t work. I will be out of business and evicted if I go 30 or more days with no income.”

Whether one agrees with the action taken by Totsch in him sharing said information online, it seems his intent was to stick up for people like the above individual who would lose it all if not allowed to run his small business.

Not to mention, while some online have admonished the act carried out by Totsch, he’s actually found quite a bit of folks cheering him on.

Individuals are even offering to take Totsch out for beers.

It is certainly an interesting turn of events, to say the least. Also, it serves as an important lesson to always read the fine print.

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