When political emotions run high, there is a higher probability of civil rights abuses, especially by people with political or administrative power. This is the danger of a provision in Amendment 10–the so-called “Protection Amendment–which calls for a constitutional amendment that would, in part, mandate the establishment of an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism Office within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
This is a dangerous and unnecessary addition to Amendment 10 that should raise a red flag among minority groups, immigrants, and others concerned about civil liberties.
The reason: The Florida Sheriff’s Association, a sponsor of Amendment 10, has already endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, an ardent Trump supporter who favors building a wall along the border with Mexico and other Trump initiatives that impinge on civil liberties. At a recent (October 10) rally in Orlando to a national sheriff’s association, Trump said “We strongly oppose efforts from politicians who try to shackle local law enforcement.” Amendment 10 makes it easier for law enforcement to be unshackled.
While Florida has been the site of two major mass shooting, both were done by white males who were U.S. residents. None were committed by non-resident terrorists. This makes the need for a Florida state office of counterterrorism expensive and unwarranted and it will only result in a further militarization of local police, complete with the most advanced military-grade weapons and surveillance hardware that also carries a high potential for abuse. This is a dangerous development.
A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo reported that in the Obama era, “police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”
People concerned about the over-reach of Amendment 10 should send a message to the Amendment’s backers and the Florida Sheriff’s Association: Endorsing a law-and-order Republican candidate, while also promoting the creation of a state counter-terrorism office, is a dangerous political combination.