Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw may soon receive $1 million from the state of Florida to set up a new violence prevention unit, but his recent comments encouraging people to turn in their neighbors are causing a firestorm.
“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 told The Palm Beach Post. “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’ ”
“How are they possibly going to watch everybody who makes a comment like that? It’s subjective,” said Liz Downey, executive director of Palm Beach County's National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We don’t want to take away people’s civil liberties just because people aren’t behaving the way we think they should be.”
However, Senate budget chief Joe Negron (R) said he “got assurances from the sheriff that this is going to be done in a way that respects people’s autonomy and privacy, and that he makes sure to protect against people making false claims.”
“We know how to sift through frivolous complaints,” stated Bradshaw.
If approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott, Bradshaw's “prevention intervention units” will respond to phone calls on a 24-hour hotline with a knock on the door and a referral to services, if needed. The idea is to prevent crimes from occurring.
“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,” explained Bradshaw. “If the neighbor of the mom in Newtown had called somebody, this might have saved 25 kids’ lives.”
Source: The Palm Beach Post