The effort by states to outdo each other with civil liberties violating legislation in the wake of shootings like those in Newtown and Aurora last year continues in Florida, where the state is close to sending $1 million to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw for a "violence prevention unit" that will respond to tips about (presumably) potentially dangerous people. Here's how Bradshaw describes it, via the Palm Beach Post:
"Every single incident, whether it's Newtown, that movie theater, or the guy who spouts off at work and then goes home and kills his wife and two kids — in every single case, there were people who said they knew ahead of time that there was a problem," Bradshaw said. "If the neighbor of the mom in Newtown had called somebody, this might have saved 25 kids' lives."
This is not actually a true statement. Murders, mass and otherwise, are also described as "the last person you'd expect to do it" (see: Ted Bundy) and not even in the specific cases Bradshaw mentioned was there a prominent account of someone knowing "ahead of time" something could happen. Anyone reading this can tick off a few names in their heads of people who "spout off at work." They are highly unlikely to ever, ever commit a (violent) crime. The U.S. violent crime rate, in fact, has been going down for the last five years and is at historical lows.
But it seems its constitutional rights and civil liberties be damned for the sheriff. Via the Palm BeachPost again:
"We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he's gonna shoot him," Bradshaw said. "What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, 'Hey, is everything OK?' "
Because everyone who "hates the government" is going to threaten to shoot the mayor in Bradshaw's world of simplistic examples. It's a brazen attitude that doesn't bode well for the program. Bradshaw says his department knows "how to sift through frivolous complaints" in regards to obvious worries about the prime opportunity this hotline provides for abuse by score-settling neighbors.
The Florida governor, Rick Scott, can still use the line-item veto to stop this state spending, and ought to. Bradshaw's response to the Seth Adams shooting ought to be enough to disqualify from any state support for yet more police powers. In that case, a deputy shot an unarmed man while conducting an "undercover investigation" not targeting Adams or his family's business. He was cleared in a report the family has said is full of holes. Bradshaw defended the shooting before any facts were even known, leaning on the fact that Adams was dead and so there was only one side of the story. There's even a forum about all the alleged corruption in the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office that the Florida governor's office would do well to check out to help him decide against sending any money to this civil liberties abomination of a proposed program.