Jacksonville's "I Spy" Program

Jacksonville, Florida , and 11 other counties in northeast Florida are the latestto introduce a program encouraging people to report people they see engaging in behavior they deem suspicious and possibly terrorism-related.

The program is called "IWatch."

The site provides examples of red flags to watch for, such as people with an unusual interest in building plans or who are purchasing materials useful in bomb making. Important places to watch include hobby stores and dive shops.


“This is not like Crime Stoppers, where people report crimes,” Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said, referencing a reward-based system for solving crimes that allows anonymity.

The fine print, in tiny letters at the bottom:

It is important to remember that just because someone’s speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different, it does not mean that he or she is suspicious.

What they ask people to report:

  • People drawing or measuring important buildings.
  • Strangers asking questions about security or building security procedures.
  • Briefcase, suitcase, backpack, or package left behind.
  • Cars or trucks left in No Parking zones in front of important buildings.
  • Intruders in secure areas where they are not supposed to be.
  • Chemical smells or fumes that worry you.
  • Questions about sensitive information such as building blueprints, security plans, or VIP travel schedules without a right or need to know.
  • Purchasing supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapons;
  • Purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Urban Area Security Initiative. How much grant money are the feds paying for this? $10 million in 2012.

Calling to inquire when a public official is coming to town is suspicious? Is buying peroxide for your hair suspicious? Is buying fertilizer for your lawn suspicious? Is an architecture student drawing a building suspicious? To the public who reads this stuff, the answer is likely going to depend on whether they view the person as someone whose speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different -- a foreigner -- which is exactly what they are told not to take into consideration. Does anyone believe someone would report a blonde haired woman buying peroxide at a beauty supply store or a blonde male buying fertilizer at the garden store or a blonde student drawing pictures of a building?

This is just another profiling program, giving people a heads-up on how to report people who are "different" based on their ethnicity -- just attach an activity to it that if engaged in by anyone else would have gone unnoticed.

A better idea:

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    MYOB (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Angel on Sat May 18, 2013 at 03:39:26 PM EST
    Mindin' other people's business seems to be high-toned
    I got all that I can do just to mind my own
    Why don't you mind your own business
    (Mind your own business)
    If you mind your own business, you'll stay busy all the time.

    Oh No.....Please Lord....No (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:08:18 PM EST
    This may sound, at first, to be off topic, but, please, a little patience.

    I have this dog, a 100 lb, large bone, powerful, muscular, ferocious looking, jaws like T-Rex, Doberman. I live alone now, just me and "Storm." I've had her for four years now, and the only reason I'm still alive to tell you this story is because Storm lets me live.......as long as I take her with me everywhere I go.

    Now, to the point:

    In the last two years, since certain animal groups have publicized it, I have been paged, and called out of stores I was shopping in, no less than six times. Six times, I was viscerally dragged out of stores, met by a phalanx of cops, and a mob of "good citizens" doing what they were told to do. "See a dog in a car," and no owner....call the cops. "See a dog, and think it's too warm, call the cops." "Don't pay attention to the four windows rolled down 6 inches.....call the cops." Don't pay attention to the dog prancing, hopping around, having a ball......call the freaken cops." And, if the temperature is over 80 degrees, ignore the air conditioner roaring away...."grab that Effing iPhone, and hit 911 just as fast as your anal retentive butt can move."

    Fight back? Explain what's happening? tell'm you trained dogs in the military, show'm the receipt, the $3000.00 freaken receipt? Point to the healthiest, happiest dog on earth?..... Right. The righteous "animal watch patrol" has you, Hannibal Lecter, right where they want you......enjoying watching the most hated man on earth. And, those smug, snarly, curled up lips of righteous indignation. trust me, "String'm Up," was only a finger snap away.

    O'boy, "I watch," I can hardly wait.  

    Shooter, clearly you need (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Zorba on Sun May 19, 2013 at 03:51:23 PM EST
    to get your dog certified as a service dog (yes, there are dogs that can get certified as service dogs for emotional support- just be sure to carry his certificate with you at all times).  
    And then you can just take this big guy into the stores and restaurants with you!  Bet they'd all love having your "little" dog in there!    
    And then, of course, if the proprietors or other customers object, you can claim discrimination, and tell them he is an emotional support dog, and they are upsetting you and making his services even more necessary.  It's a win-win for you!

    Thanks for the advice, ole buddy (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 19, 2013 at 09:18:03 PM EST
    I think you're on to something. I can't stop other people from doing whatever they're going to do. I'm just going to have to be proactive, and affirmatively deal with this problem.  

    The point I was trying to make I guess, is to be aware of "the law of unintended consequences."  Take the Zimmerman case, for instance. The guy "thought" he was doing the right thing albeit, without sufficient training, or experience, that an actual police officer would have. He, in my opinion, exercised poor judgment.  With this proposed "iWatch"  business we are going to ask millions of regular citizens to point out to the authorities those they think are acting suspiciously. Great idea, right? Well, yes, if it leads to the results it was intended to achieve. But, you'll have to forgive me, (and, this was the point I was trying to make with my doggy story) that presupposes that all those millions of people will use good judgment when notifying the authorities about perceived, suspicious, behavior. And, again, from my experience, this may lead, not to catching a terrorist, but to mass chaos instead.

    But, look, there's no winning, or losing, this debate. For every point one way there's a counterpoint. If one brings up the point of, "be careful what you wish for," the response is often, "oh, so you want to let dogs die in overheated cars, or let terrorists blow us all up."

    Of course, people who, legitimately, witness suspicious things, whether it be about dogs or potential terrorists, should speak up. That's just being a good citizen. But, the key words are, "legitimately," and "judgment." And, to go further, by basically deputizing millions of average, untrained,  folks , to take on responsibilities they're ill-prepared for, is a formula for trouble.(IMO)

    And, as one of my most favorite people here on TL, the last thing I want is trouble with you.....(pretend I know how to string together a list of smilies, kissies, and huggies)


    Good thing you don't have small kids! (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:19:55 PM EST
    The analogy (none / 0) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Sat May 18, 2013 at 06:30:35 PM EST
     my little doggie Tale was meant to portray was, "give a person an inch, soon they believe they're rulers.

    I wonder what will happen on the day 600 million calls come in reporting "suspicious" behavior?


    Leaving a dog in (none / 0) (#22)
    by Zorba on Sun May 19, 2013 at 03:53:40 PM EST
    an air-conditioned car is hardly analogous to leaving a small child alone in a car, regardless of the temperature.

    Times have changed, Zorba! (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Sun May 19, 2013 at 04:39:39 PM EST
    was I talking about (none / 0) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 19, 2013 at 08:25:45 PM EST
    "..leaving a small child alone in a car,..?"

    But, that leads to the critical problem
    ......judgment, unless, of course, one has a problem differentiating "a small child," and a happy, healthy, bouncing dog:)


    oh, yuk! (none / 0) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 19, 2013 at 09:09:31 PM EST
    that didn't come out sounding right. I'm just teasing, you know that.......(I hope)

    Don't ask me, (none / 0) (#29)
    by Zorba on Sun May 19, 2013 at 10:45:13 PM EST
    ask oculus.  They're the one who said "Good thing you don't have small kids."

    Remember the Majors wife (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Sun May 19, 2013 at 06:48:59 PM EST
    Who wanted us to return to the arse kissing days of officer wives teas and who thinks wives don't dress correctly anymore?  I was really disgusted with her last fall when she was getting her allergy shot the same time I was and when leaving I discover she had left her adopted toddler daughter strapped into the car seat alone in the car for half an hour.  Some things never change, and the people who want to micromanage everyone else are always pulling horrible crap and getting away with it.

    Three thousand dollar receipt for? (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdm251 on Sun May 19, 2013 at 09:59:17 AM EST
    A three thousand dollar receipt for?

    I am picturing a large swamp cooler on top of your car that you paid three grand for


    a dog, (none / 0) (#27)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 19, 2013 at 09:11:29 PM EST
    a specially bred dog.

    Sorry shooter (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Sun May 19, 2013 at 12:52:21 PM EST
    When I have gone to dog events, the competitors often eat together before going home or back to our rooms.  We share the different information on the different restaurants who will work with you, seat you by a window with your vehicle right outside in clear view.  Everyone has their AC running while we grab a bite, but if you don't cut the whole pitchforks process off at the start it gets wild.  We try to stay in groups too because there is safety in numbers of us when facing angry mobs.

    I am grateful that Americans care about animals.  It can get very unthinking and faddish though.  I wish we jointly cared about our children as much.  I often see placards on Facebook of individuals claiming if they see a dog alone in a car they are going to break the window.  It gets very thoughtless and reflexive.


    OK... (none / 0) (#31)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:20:32 AM EST
    ...so you roll your windows down and leave the AC on, presumably with your keys in the ignition.  The 'phalanx' of cops knows your phone/pager number and/or what you look like in order to 'viscerally' drag you out of store on 6 different occasions.  And you keep a receipt for your dog on you at all times which you believe proves how much you love your dog.

    Sorry but, that story is literally unbelievable.

    As an animal lover myself, and one who takes his dog with him often, I can't see fault in calling the police if someone feels like a dog is in danger.  Ditto for a kid. I would go so far as busting a window if the occupant appeared to be in grave danger.  

    The danger is obvious, which is nothing like this post where someone may be doing something as innocuous as parking where they shouldn't be, purchasing a pressure cooker/fertilizer, or even leaving their bags by mistake.  I requires making some large assumptions, which are most likely driven by race, which one doesn't have to do when observing a dog/kid in a car with the windows up in summer.

    I can not comment on what happened in your case(s) because I have a very hard time believing the police would drag you out of a store if your windows were down or the AC was running.  Seems like your issue should be with the idiotic cops rather than a the concerned citizen(s) who were essentially acting in the best interest of your pet.

    Would you have the same attitude if you, like many parents, completely forgot about the passenger and the call resulted in possibly saving your pet ?


    If your vehicle runs very quietly like mine (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:22:44 AM EST
    Does, it is very difficult to know the car is on and the AC is on.  A Tesla doesn't even make a sound, we just got to drive one last month.  How are they going to swing that one?

    It happens a lot to dog people right now.


    That Reminds Me... (none / 0) (#33)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:39:02 AM EST
    ...do they have AC, I assume so, but that is easily the single biggest electrical drain for any car.  

    So while the AC effects gas mileage nominally, for an electric car I would imagine it would cut it's rage by at least half.

    It's not really fare to the public to create a situation in which the police need to be called and in which even they can't determine if you pet is in danger.  The alternative is for people to ignore what appears to be a situation in which an animal is going to suffer, possibly to death.  

    For what, so someone can take their pet with them...  If this is indeed the case, leave it at home.  Don't burden the public and the police.  And if it's an absolute necessity, leave a sign, or like you mentioned, park somewhere in which you can keep an eye on the situation.


    I say it is a difficult call (none / 0) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 20, 2013 at 12:57:00 PM EST
    My last car did not allow me to lock it with keys in the ignition, but I figured you'd have to be nuts to help yourself to my car with an unknown German Shepherd sitting in the front seat.  I did consider placing a sign on my dash but with the car unlocked it seemed like it would invite theft.  My new car locks while running so I will put a sign on my dash now.

    For some people, their dogs go everywhere with them and they are deeply bonded. I have children, so not so bonded to my dogs, but in my childhood was that bonded.  I see many retired people this bonded to their dogs. It is a lot to get therapy dog cert too, not every dog that is loved and adored could qualify for therapy dog.

    As for how much charge a Tesla uses in AC, I don't know, but we did abuse it on Fort Rucker for 4 hours and it did fine with the AC going most of the time.  The new S model is nothing short of a SUPER car.  

    Something very funny though, my husband is a constant critical thinker and is very interested in wind and solar power.  Alabama Power is who brought the Tesla out and after letting my husband drive it he began talking about the future solar charging of his future Tesla.  The poor guy from Alabama Power looked like my husband slapped him, and my husband has been in uniform for so long he just misses some of he finer lines and creases in a brow.  And if your shirt doesn't have rank on it, he doesn't see the Alabama Power and he doesn't stop to think about why you brought this super awesome car out here today.  I threw my hand over my mouth and just let him go on and on while the look of horror spread over the Alabama Power face.  And I still haven't splain'd any of the lack of emotional intelligence in that conversation to my husband.  Why fix what isn't broken :) ?


    I Was, Still Am... (none / 0) (#35)
    by ScottW714 on Mon May 20, 2013 at 04:22:11 PM EST
    ...really interested in getting a Tesla.  For me, who rarely leaves the city, it would be perfect.  The issue that holds me back is the cost of replacing the batteries.  No one knows when it has to be done, what the cost is, and Tesla is tight lipped about.  Most electric car batteries are replaced in 4-6 years and cost about a third of the car cost.  If true for the Tesla would be too big of pill for me to swallow.

    They have certified used Roadsters on their website.  It's a shame they stopped making them, they have all the specs one requires of a sports car.

    I bet it was a blast to drive.  Is it completely quit, or do the motors make some noise ?


    No noise (none / 0) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 20, 2013 at 09:06:42 PM EST
    It's fast too, very quick.  Makes you feel stupid when someone asks you how it handles and drives because you want to make motor sounds but there are no motor sounds.  The outside door handles disappear into the car until needed.  I bet it is hard to steal.  The inside is very ergonomic and spacious, very spacious both front and back and two trunks, and everything is run touch screen.

    The guy from AP said that measuring by BTUs the S model gets 90+ miles to the gallon and goes from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds easily.  I don't know why anyone would want a muscle car anymore, it just about qualifies for muscle car though with how quick it is.  


    The Roadster... (none / 0) (#38)
    by ScottW714 on Tue May 21, 2013 at 02:00:31 PM EST
    ...goes from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.  For comparison,  a 90's Ferrari Testarossa would do it in 5.2 seconds.

    They had an older Roadster there too (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 22, 2013 at 07:51:37 AM EST
    I think it was the first Tesla.  But it went on the fritz.  A few people got to drive it, and then suddenly it wouldn't turn on.  It would make a clicking noise.  Maybe it was out of juice.  It was considerably older than the Model S, and bright orange.  The Alabama Power dudes said that when they are in it they get challenged at lights all the time and it's just stupid to want to race them.  They said they beat the pants off a new Mustang off the line just getting there that day.  They did have to take that one back on a trailer though.

    Scott, this is perfect.... (none / 0) (#36)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 20, 2013 at 06:55:50 PM EST
    I want to respond to you, and the others who have commented here, and I will. But, because this thread has formed so beautifully, and demonstrates almost flawlessly all the problems in trying to communicate, discuss, debate, etc. in a forum such as a blog. What a great study this is. One on one, person to person, live in real time, there is no doubt....none, that everyone here would be in perfect harmony, and in perfect agreement soon after my remarks were read.

    But, in a blog the community resembles a ball of mercury; drop it on the floor and, splat, the pieces shoot out in all directions. We've only just begun the study of "social media," and this thread here would make a wonderful case study, IMO.

    I've pointed out individual, predictable responses to opening comments before. For example, "Joe, a truly great humanitarian again displayed his love of mankind by performing........" The man may have demonstrated his selfless devotion to the betterment of the human race for 40 unbroken years, but, how often is the first response to the opening statement, "three people died in the hovercraft he built to ferry food and medicine to the island."

    Negative....first responder. Let someone express their joy at a recent happening, then, like clockwork, a poster, and we all know who they are, will pop their bubble as if that was their life's work. Even this, the words I'm writing right now, because I'm not Shakespeare and the words don't flow like honey the response is, more often than not, an attempt at a zinger. It's rarely an affirmation, or an addition, or a request for clarification or expansion. This is the dark side of our "bringing us all together" social media.

    Like I said, Scott, I will get back to you.    


    I shudder to think what happens when this (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Angel on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:24:12 PM EST
    collides with Stand Your Ground.  

    "hobby shops and dive stores..." (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Mr Natural on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:47:34 PM EST
    As usual, the Homeland Klown Posse missed the most obvious Terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrism Supply outlet, Williams Sonoma.

    Suspicious Activity reports (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Mr Natural on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:58:09 PM EST
    All that B/S ultimately ends up in our Dear Leader's fusion center databases, from which it will never, never I tell you, be erased.

    The ACLU on suspicious activity reporting.

    Since your average person... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Dadler on Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:55:28 PM EST
    ...has no polished observational skills and generally doesn't know their head from their ace about their own psychology, much less anyone else's, the chances of this program doing anything but proving to be The Idiot Patrol are not even slim to non-existent, just non-existent.  

    You may be on to something... (none / 0) (#15)
    by unitron on Sat May 18, 2013 at 09:38:46 PM EST
    ..."...the chances of this program doing anything but proving to be The Idiot Patrol..."

    This will eventually provide the authorities with a pre-compiled, self-compiled, list of idiots, to be either ignored as a source of information thereafter, or rounded up and interned for the duration during periods of crisis to keep them from getting in the way of the sensible folk trying to deal with things.

    : - )


    Suppose all you want (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by shoephone on Sat May 18, 2013 at 09:09:04 PM EST
    There is no evidence to support your supposition.

    A woman screaming for help... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Sun May 19, 2013 at 07:51:55 AM EST
    is a far cry from some brown-skinned tourist taking a picture of a notable building, or a guy buying a pressure cooker.

    Worth noting the good samaritans in Cleveland handled it exactly right...they heard/saw a fellow human being in distress and acted.  They didn't drop a dime until after the prisoner was freed and, to paraphrase Charles Ramsey, it was a "dead giveaway" a violent crime had occurred.

    The supposedly "suspicious" sh*t Jacksonville wants you to drop a dime over are not "dead giveaways", and in my humble opinion spying and informing on what are most likely innocuous acts does not a good citizen make.    

    Cleveland (none / 0) (#18)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sun May 19, 2013 at 11:38:17 AM EST
    they didn't drop a dime until after the prisoner was freed

    You mean they took it on themselves to do the job of the police, instead of waiting for the police to arrive?


    Is that your real belief? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by sj on Sun May 19, 2013 at 02:52:54 PM EST
    That only police should intervene to help someone in distress?  I hope no one is ever in personal distress with only your not-police self in the vicinity.

    No... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Mon May 20, 2013 at 09:03:57 AM EST
    I mean they did the decent thing as human beings...they didn't try to arrest the perp, that's the cops job.

    Ya don't need a badge to help people, nor does dropping a dime necessarily help, that depends.  Sometimes dropping a dime causes direct harm to people.


    This sounds like a national Neighborhood (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:18:35 PM EST
    Watch program.

    Sounds more to me like (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Peter G on Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:44:29 PM EST
    the former East German Stasi or the Cuban Committees in Defense of the Revolution.

    We Can Only Hope . . . (none / 0) (#6)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:30:05 PM EST
    . . . that participants are also being advised to remain in their vehicles, and defuse the situation by identifying themselves.

    And not carry firearms. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by oculus on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:43:58 PM EST