For those who don’t follow the news too closely: Zachary Cruz (according to CNN today), the brother of Nicholas Cruz (the Parkland school shooter) is being held on a $500,000 dollar bond and is undergoing an “involuntary mental health screening” while police search his home to find and remove any guns. I read that and I was wondering what the hell he possibly could have done. Did he plot to get revenge against the people who locked up his brother? Did he send threatening emails, or a bomb scare or something? Could there really be a genetic element to criminal behavior? What kind of monster is this guy?`The answer is pretty mundane. He was stopped at Marjorie Stonemason Douglas High School at about 5pm, ostensibly for skateboarding/trespassing. He told police he wanted to "reflect on the shooting and soak it in". According to the article, which cites the arrest record, "he has no ties to Broward County". Yeah, no. I'm pretty sure he has ties to Broward County. His brother killed 17 people there. It's not a good tie, or something that's easy to put aside or understand, but it's impossible to ignore. Just for a moment imagine Nicholas Cruz was a member of your family; would you be able to stay away? I know I wouldn't. I'd have to go there at least once, just to see the place and put myself in their shoes, and try to make some sense out of it. Maybe even to "reflect and soak it in". While I'll probably get called an armchair psychologist (don't they ALL sit in armchairs?) it doesn't strike me as particularly odd or threatening behavior. Zachary Cruz is 18 years old, his big brother committed a horrific crime, and he's trying to understand. What's threatening about that?
What IS threatening about this is the fact that a person with "no ties to Broward County" is being held on a half million dollar bond, forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and suffering an invasion of their privacy and a violation of their 4th Amendment rights because they were either A) skateboarding/trespassing or B) related to somebody who did something bad. To be succinct, this is a SUPER SH\*TTY precedent to set.
If it's A) and he's being subjected to invasion of privacy, involuntary committal, and detention for what's typically a $25 dollar ticket then it's clearly far out of proportion to the offense, a misdemeanor. If Florida allows this to proceed for a misdemeanor offense there is tacit acknowledgement that police may question your mental health, have you committed, and search your house "for guns and weapons" FOR A MISDEMEANOR.
Since the language of the law ambiguously reads "when practicable that a law enforcement officer with certain training be assigned to serve and execute certain ex parte orders; authorizing a law enforcement officer to seize and hold firearms and ammunition if taking custody of a person who poses a potential danger to himself or herself or others" it leaves the door open to numerous potential avenues of abuse. It allows officers to decide when it's practicable to get an officer with "certain training" (whatever that is) to "seize and hold firearms and ammunition if taking custody of a person who poses a danger to himself or herself or others". It begs the question who decides when a person is a danger to themselves or others, and how do they decide? The officers? Is it possible that an individual police officer may question a persons sanity based on an interaction, decide that person is a threat to themselves or others, search their residence, find something the weren't looking for and charge with a crime based on evidence recovered in what was supposed to be a search for firearms and ammunition?
If officers get to decide that someone is a danger, and they deem it not practicable to get an officer to with "certain training" do they have the authority to search for (seize and hold) guns or weapons? What happens if they find something that's not a weapon, but is illegal? Is it evidence, or is the search a violation if the 4th AND 5th amendments if no weapons are found? Who decides? This opens the door to massive police abuse.
Of course I could be wrong. Maybe they did this because B) he's related to Nicholas Cruz. That's much more comforting right? His brother is a bad guy, so we can definitely treat HIM as a bad guy too. Maybe not quite as bad, but we can still lock him up, search his stuff, and force him to talk to a psychiatrist. We should probably look at his parents and grand-parents too. After all, they're related and clearly he learned his trespassing ways somewhere. I bet they have a long family history of trespassing. If the police search their houses for guns I bet they even find a skateboard, and probably evidence of jay-walking. Unto the third and fourth generations right? I feel safer just thinking about it. What a relief it is to know we can be locked up, searched, and and mentally evaluated by the state for a misdemeanor that would have normally been a $25 dollar ticket. Oh and just a heads up for spring breakers, but now that the camel's nose is under the tent you might want to stick to the "Yes Sir, No Sir" script when you're dealing with cops this year. It would be a shame if you got searched and sent to the psych ward for yelling at cop while drinking on the beach in Panama City. Thanks Florida, thanks a lot.