Florida Governor Yanks Funding For Police ‘Snitch’ Program To Report ‘Suspicious’ Neighbors

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Early this month, the sheriff of Palm Beach County, Fla., announced a new, Orwellian “violence prevention” program designed to pit neighbors against each other by having people anonymously call the cops on anyone who doesn’t like the government or takes a picture of a bridge.

Why? Because people who voice their disapproval of the way their leaders are representing them might be terrorists, the kind of people who’d shoot up a school or set off a bomb at a public event or important landmark.

The local program was to receive $1 million in State funds, apportioned by the Legislature, to train deputies, mental health professionals and case workers to respond whenever someone called the 24-hour citizen hotline, so that they could then visit alleged terrorists, at their homes, unannounced, with the goal of diverting their latent violent behavior before they commit an atrocious act.

A bonus: The sheriff’s office would have dirt on people reported to the hotline, stacking the deck against supposed “terrorists” by exposing them to unwarranted scrutiny and making otherwise-innocuous citizens look like festering threats, if ever they should come before the law for any reason.

At the time, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said this:

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. What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, “Hey, is everything OK?”

Neighbors helping neighbors, eh? East Germans lent each other a similar helping hand during the Cold War, when the Stasi state security ministry recruited regular people to rat out their neighbors and coworkers for harboring anti-government sentiment.

But folks in Palm Beach eager to turn on their fellow man may have to go back to calling 911 or the police dispatch line, thanks to Republican Governor Rick Scott’s recent veto of the $1 million in State money originally earmarked to subsidize the $3.2 million tattling scheme.

Of course there’s a twist: Scott didn’t veto the Legislature’s earmark on principle; in fact, he called the prevention program “a very well-intended project.” His reason, rather, was that Florida’s taxpayers as a whole were being asked to support a program that “benefits” only the residents of Palm Beach County.

With nearly a third of his funding gone, Bradshaw has said his department is reconsidering deploying the program at all. That’s welcome news to residents who were outraged about the plan — not only on Constitutional grounds, but for its outright stupidity.

“Kill this thing before it grows like a cancer,” an unnamed Tea Party supporter told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The idea may not be dead nationwide, though. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is enabling local enforcement agencies to do, by proxy, what Congress, to the disappointment of George W. Bush, forbade it from doing upon its creation in 2001: acting as an info dump for Stasi-style tipsters. Through nearly $500 million in local “urban area security” grants last year, DHS has primed local agencies, including the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, to mine citizens’ paranoia for information about who’s got it in for their government.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

  • SSMcDonald

    Governor Scott is right to veto this program even though, unfortunately, he didn’t do it for principle. Violation of the 4th Amendment is the primary reason the legislation should never have even been suggested in the Florida Legislature.

  • BarrackHussein

    Switch the program to a bounty program for criminal immigrants defrauding Americans…

  • steve

    interesting that it takes money for people to act and make their neighborhood safe. germany ,here we come

  • mari

    Ten years ago, I thought that we were creeping towards an Orwellian government, but it was a slow moving train. Now, every obstacle melts before the force of the bullet train that produces all things evil out of thin air. Then it was like some new idea would come along and we would slowly adapt (Recycling comes to mind. They told us that it would save the earth, and we did what we needed to do to make that change, slowly, very, very slowly. Not wasting seemed like a good thing. Now they tell us that recycling really does very little good. What it did was open the door of our minds so we all would embrace Global warming and a myriad of changes that reach into our freedoms and wallets). Now we are being barraged daily with CHANGE. Not the slow-growing kind, but the do-it-now- or-die kind. Not the benign kind, but the malignant change that encourages us to report our families and friends.
    Despot have always incorporated this idea into their societies.

  • John Cherish

    This could be used by people having feuds with a neighbor falsely reporting them to “get even” It is a big waste of money and it resembles the things a totalitarian state would do. This is not welcome in the United States we do not need to pit neighbor against neighbor. This is a sick communist program and it is an over-reach by the government

    • Jimmy the Greek

      That’s what low lifes do now they call CPS on each other when they get mad !

  • Steve E

    Looks like the sheriff is the one that is anti American. If they had that program working, I would call in and inform them about their own sheriff.

  • Michael Shreve

    Oh, for gods sake! If they want, I’LL put MY name on their list of people who DETEST our CURRENT federal government.

  • 20 yr vet

    I was stationed in Berlin when the “wall” was built, made many patrols into E Berlin. This is a very scary trend. The children in the East were used to tattle on their parents if they watched West tv. How much more communistic/controlling can you get? Seems like our “Leaders?” want to make us a two=class society; The rich ruling class, and the slave/drone class?!?

  • Jimmy the Greek

    It might be less trouble for police if they went about it the other way , find out who likes the goverment , they would need way less space to store the names . LOL