NEW YORK: A Florida sheriff office has put out an 'ISIS-style' video in which the sheriff flanked by balaclavas-clad policemen warns drug dealers "we're coming for you", a move rebuked by many people. Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell put out a tough- talking public service announcement, warning about his crackdown on heroin abuse as he stands surrounded by four masked men.
"To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you: We're coming for you," Grinnell says in the clip, with the menacing men at his sides and battle-ready music in the background. He also warns that the department will drop a murder charge on any dealer whose drugs can be directly tied to a fatal overdose, the New York Daily News reported.
The video earned more than 570,000 views and some praise on social media from residents who appreciated the stern words. Most viewers, though, felt the clip came too close to presenting a militarised police force — or an ISIS propaganda clip. Describing it as a "wrong message" here, one resident wrote in a Facebook comment saying, projecting a militarised police state is going to do nothing "against drug dealers/traffickers and just promote more militarisation".
"Police need to re-learn their roles because in the end, they are not the military. Smart police use the public to gain understanding of problems, not threaten the public with midnight no-knock raids," the post said. Many users pointed out the similarities to ISIS videos, which usually show a row of masked militants issuing extreme threats to enemies.
"These cops look like they're going to create a caliphate and behead moderate police officers," a Twitter user said. The sheriff's office has not commented on the reactions to the video. Grinnell was elected to serve as sheriff last November, and ran on promises to ramp up enforcement against drug crimes and Driving under the influence (DUI).
He also started a so-called "community engagement unit," with the intention of creating viral social media content like the heroin video. Lake County has seen a tremendous recent spike in heroin deaths, reflecting the nationwide epidemic of opioid fatalities.