It should come as no surprise that the Lake County Sheriff's Office is being compared to ISIS
after posting a recent video showing Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, flanked by hyper-militarized officers, saying he'll be tough on heroin dealers.
The video is completely insane.
While an ominous soundtrack plays in the background, the camera slowly zooms in on Grinnell. "To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you," says Grinnell, "We’re coming for you. As a matter of fact, our undercover agents have already bought heroin from many of you. We are simply awaiting the arrest warrants to be finalized."
The 90-second video was posted to Facebook Friday, April 7, and has since been viewed more than 600,000 times.
So far, the reaction has been overwhelmingly bad. "Well this looks exactly like an ISIS video guys," said a commenter named Shelbee Browne. "So that's what you guys call 'Community Engagement'?" said another commenter named Erik Mathy. "Ski masks, black camo and bulletproof vests? Yeah, you belong back in the 40's in Germany or maybe over in Russia right now. You'd fit in just fine." The thread is full of similar comments.
Twitter, as you can imagine, also hasn't been kind to Grinnell.
Florida sheriffs have a well-documented history of creating the most bizarre videos – see Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who once said his deputies only shot a suspected cop killer 68 times
because they didn't have more bullets, or Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey's weekly "Wheel of Fugitive
" videos. Oh, and the time Escambia County Sheriff Thelbert "David" Morgan
said racism in America isn't that bad because we had a black president.
While all of these examples are extremely embarrassing for varying reasons, the Lake County Sheriff's Office latest video might just be the worst.
One thing is very clear in this video: Grinnell is extremely proud of his department's warrior mindset and less concerned with the fact that nearly every expert agrees that the roots of the heroin epidemic are found in overly prescribed legal painkillers
, like Oxycontin and Percocet.
The militarization of police is more than just small departments attaining bigger guns and tanks that they barely ever use – it's a complete culture shift.
The Harvard Review
covered this topic extensively in a report from April 2015:
"Modern policing has so thoroughly assimilated the warrior mythos that, at some law enforcement agencies, it has become a point of professional pride to refer to the “police warrior.”
Similarly, a wide variety of sources identify police officers as warriors.This is more than a relatively minor change in terminology.
Though adopted with the best of intentions, the warrior concept has created substantial obstacles to improving police/community relations. In short, law enforcement has developed a “warrior” problem."
When we encourage a "warrior" police culture, there are direct consequences, like when officers are threatened with their jobs because of PTSD
, or when S.W.A.T. raids the wrong location
The issue here is that tough words and masked officers isn't exactly community policing, which is supposedly why the Lake County Sheriff's Office made this terrible video in the first place.
According to The Daily Commercial,
the video was created by the sheriff’s recently formed Community Engagement Unit, whose sole purpose is to "create more interaction with the public through a variety of avenues, including through postings on the agency’s Facebook page and other social media."
Hopefully Lake County Sheriff's Office realizes that the "War on Drugs" isn't a literal war – it involves educating the public, helping addicts find new ways to recover and curbing opioid prescriptions.