The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is seeking funding for teams of social workers and deputies who can respond 24/7 to anonymous citizen complaints of suspicious behavior by others.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw's second-in-command, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, announced the program at a community forum on Wednesday. He said early vigilance and quick response might have prevented the school shootings in Newtown. The Palm Beach Post was there:
Most of the victims of the Newtown school massacre were just like Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy's daughter: seven-year-old first graders at a public school.
"If a similar tragedy were visited upon me and my family, I would be beside myself," he says. "But I think one of my ways of healing would be attempting to find out what went wrong, where was the failure."
But trying to start a public discussion of the public's small hope of ever finding out what went wrong has been costly.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been all over the news this week. On Monday, responding to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, he said all remedies must be "on the table" legislatively, including allowing teachers and principals to arm themselves on school grounds.
On Tuesday, after his comments had been reported widely, Baxley issued a statement that this is a time to respect the victims. "Contrary to media reports, no specific proposals have been advanced or filed by me," he wrote.
The coincidence of two recent events has brought the issue of gun ownership to the forefront in Florida: the state has issued its 1 millionth active concealed weapon permit, the highest of any state, and the shooting of 20 first graders in Newtown, Conn.