Palm Beach County Sheriff: Turn in Your Neighbors for Thoughtcrimes


Thought Police

“The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
– George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 1

If you hear that knock on your door and you find yourself being greeted by an intervention team, it could be the prevention intervention unit responding to a neighbor’s complaint that you are acting funny. They are there to intervene because they heard that some bad idea might be floating around in your head. If it sounds like 1984 that’s because it is but it’s not fiction.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff wants citizens in his county to turn in their neighbors in a first-ever Orwellian police approach to gun violence.

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

The plan works like this: a citizen makes a call about someone s/he doesn’t think is acting right and then the “prevention intervention” units comprised of armed trained deputies, mental health professionals and caseworkers are dispatched. The team decides if it’s a valid complaint and how to handle it.

The Sheriff’s plan is well-intentioned but it’s nuts.

The politicians couldn’t fund it fast enough. They are going to waste $3 million dollars on a program that would make a NAZI smile.

Not to worry about people’s “autonomy and privacy,” the Sheriff promises to safeguard that and to make sure to “protect against people making false claims.”

That puts the Sheriff in the position of judge, jury, and who-knows-what-else.

I imagine this will be great for the mental health of mentally ill people who are turned in for being different. Let’s stigmatize them more and let them know that some neighbor is out to get them.

Surely this won’t be abused by vindictive or angry people.

This is a Republican-supported idea so I’m being very non-partisan here – it’s Fascist. Rise up Floridians! This will be abused with all the best intentions.

The worst thing about it is this Sheriff doesn’t see it as a problem and hopes it will be a model for the nation.

The proposal still needs the final approval of Governor Rick Scott.

Read about it at the Palm Beach Post

CORRECTION: It was originally reported as Broward County but it is Palm Beach County.