Governor Kills Funding For Florida Snitch Program
Florida Governor Rick Scott has killed funding for a controversial "violence prevention program" in Florida which caused a public backlash after the Sheriff's office in Palm Beach County encouraged people to report on their neighbors for anti-government rhetoric.
As we reported earlier this month, the program would have created a 24 hour hotline via which citizens could report "suspicious behavior," prompting "a knock on the door and a referral to services" by specially trained deputies and mental health caseworkers.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, a Democrat, stoked anger amongst conservatives when he suggested the program would be used to target political free speech deemed potentially violent by authorities.
“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?’”
Following a public backlash from critics who denounced the program as a disturbing throwback to how political dissidents were imprisoned in Soviet mental hospitals for criticizing the state, Governor Rick Scott announced that the campaign would not receive taxpayer funds and the Sheriff's office has said that it is now reconsidering the plan.
"Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $1 million from the state budget that was part of funding for the county's "Violence Prevention Program," designed to encourage communities to report suspicious behavior. Now the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says it will "re-evaluate the feasibility of going forward," reports the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
However, Scott's reason for vetoing funding was because the whole state would have been paying for a local program, and apparently had little to do with public rancor over the proposal. Scott called the program a "very-well-intended project."
Although the Sheriff's office had previously indicated it would go ahead with the scheme even without state funding, the project now appears to be on the verge of being mothballed.
"The sheriff appreciates the fact that the Legislature saw fit to fund the program and the governor considered the program and its value before making the tough budget decision," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "Given the lack for funding, the Sheriff's Office will re-evaluate the feasibility of going forward, and continue with existing programs to combat violence in the community."
Critics like former Soviet Union resident Dmitry Levin said the project bore hallmarks of belonging under a tyrannical regime, “It’s a specific telephone line to report your neighbor who doesn’t like the government," he remarked. “When I read that, my jaw dropped. That’s KGB in its finest form. The next step would be, what, bonuses for reporting?”
However, as we have highlighted, Americans are already being targeted for "psychiatric evaluations" as a result of their political opinions.
Last year, former Marine Brandon Raub was forcibly incarcerated in a psychiatric ward by authorities in Virginia for political posts on Facebook.
In addition, authorities are greasing the skids for wider gun confiscation by expanding the definition under which a person can be declared “mentally ill,” to the point where harsh anti-government rhetoric is now being treated as a potential precursor to terrorism.
Veterans are already having their guns seized by police off the back of forced “psychiatric evaluations,” while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is sending out letters to servicemembers warning them that “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition.”