Sheriff’s office forced to respond after huge backlash
Paul Joseph Watson
May 17, 2013
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office has been forced to respond to a huge backlash against a $3.2 million dollar “violence prevention program” that encourages neighbors to report on each other for “suspicious behavior,” with authorities claiming the project will not be used to target gun owners who criticize the government.
As we reported earlier this month, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw introduced the program, which is set to receive $1 million in funding from the Florida Legislature, with the promise that people considered violent who spout rhetoric about ‘hating the government’ would receive home visits from police and mental health professionals.
The campaign would also include “public service announcements to encourage local citizens to report their neighbors,” prompting critics to make comparisons to the former East German Stasi.
In the aftermath of a massive public backlash, Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist for the sheriff’s office, told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that the intention of the program had been “widely misinterpreted.”
If your neighbor has “an arsenal of weapons and has made anti-governmental comments but has not made threats,” this person would be left alone, said Iarossi.
This hasn’t convinced critics of the program on both the left and right, who continue to denounce the very notion of neighbors reporting on each other as un-American, including former Soviet Union resident Dmitry Levin, who remarked, “It’s a specific telephone line to report your neighbor who doesn’t like the government. “When I read that, my jaw dropped. That’s KGB in its finest form. The next step would be, what, bonuses for reporting?”
The issue of anti-government rhetoric being met with police visits is particularly sensitive given the recent scandal involving the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups with frivolous audits and delayed tax exempt status applications.
The Sheriff’s office claims the program is purely designed to “prevent violence,” but as mental health workers have pointed out, the money would better be spent on existing mental health services.
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