Florida state lawmakers have granted Palm Beach County sheriff Ric Bradshaw $1 million to form a “prevention intervention” unit intended to detect potential criminals. The program, which would include check-ins from police and mental-health professionals, is intended to address possible mental-health and safety concerns, but also raises concerns about civil liberties.
“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s going to 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?’”
The first-of-its-kind unit would feature a 24-hour hotline for residents to call if they have concerns and want to alert authorities of “potential powder kegs.” Bradshaw said authorities will not arrest troubled people, but contact the individuals and get them help.
Governor Rick Scott could still veto the proposal. Some mental-health advocates said they are worried about the service being misused or serving as a new source of stigma for those with mental illnesses. “We know how to sift through frivolous complaints,” Bradshaw said to address critics.