Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A frontrunner to become Mayor of Orange County Florida proposes to combat crime in the area by creating a 1,000 person strong spy force who would cruise around neighborhoods on bikes reporting suspicious behavior to uniformed supervisors, a creepy program with dark undertones of the Hitler Youth program of 1930’s Nazi Germany.
Matthew Falconer, who professes to be a Libertarian, has been handing out a business card to potential voters outlining his platform.
On the back of the card, Falconer outlines his intention to, “Improve public safety by putting 1,000 additional observers on patrol in your neighborhood.”
Falconer’s website provides more detail as to what exactly this new program will entail.
My solution is to innovate. I call for the implementation of my “COPs” program (Citizen Observers). This program will put 1000 young people on bicycles with radios patrolling our neighborhoods keeping our citizens safe. My mission is to prevent crime and move away from the responsive method of public safety in Orange County. The observers will ride through specific areas, seek out criminal behavior, and report events to a uniformed supervisor. They will also talk with residents to find out who is committing the crimes in the area and attempt to gather information to solve existing crimes.
Falconer’s website states that the “public safety personnel” will receive just $10 dollars an hour, meaning the cost of the entire program will amount to no more than $2.5 million dollars a year.
Falconer’s intention to “move away from the responsive method to public safety” and instead have poorly trained amateur teenage spies watching their neighbors and actively seeking out suspicious behavior with seemingly little accountability whatsoever sets a dangerous precedent. Even if the program has genuine intentions behind it, the potential for members of the 1,000 strong spy force to abuse their power to settle scores with neighbors they don’t like is clearly a possibility, which is exactly what has happened historically when citizens are afforded the power to inform on each other.
Falconer’s proposal is clearly anti-American and unconstitutional. Though some may argue that vigilantes are a good thing in an age of growing corruption and police brutality, the fact is that vigilantes are traditionally responsive to crime and act as watchmen, they do not spy on the innocent and actively seek out potential criminal behavior, as Falconer’s program outlines.
Fears about the creation of an East German-style Stasi outfit that would keep an eye on Americans were raised in July of last year when President Barack Obama, during a speech on the campaign trail, promised a “national civilian security force” that would be just as powerful as the U.S. military.
As we have documented, informant programs that encourage Americans to spy on each other are already in operation across the country in a number of different guises.
The legacy of training Americans to spy on each other in the name of “safety” has its origins in Operation TIPS, which was supposedly nixed by Congress, a DOJ, FBI, DHS and FEMA coordinated program that would have recruited one in twenty-four Americans as domestic informants, a higher percentage than was used by the Stasi in Communist East Germany.
Government funding was cut after an outcry but private funding continues and the same program was introduced under a number of sub-divisions including AmeriCorps, SecureCorps and the Highway Watch program.
Similar programs being run bother privately and under government auspices are increasingly beginning to mirror the citizen denunciation campaigns that became prominent in Nazi Germany.
One common misconception about Nazi Germany was that the police state was solely a creation of the authorities and that the citizens were merely victims. On the contrary, Gestapo files show that 80% of all Gestapo investigations were started in response to information provided from denunciations by “ordinary” Germans.
“There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors,” wrote Robert Gellately of Florida State University.
You Tube user Austin White makes his feelings about Falconer’s proposal clear in the clip below.