A Florida sheriff put out a tough-talking public service announcement warning about his crackdown on heroin abuse as he stands surrounded by four masked men — a viral video many viewers either took as a good joke, or a joke gone wrong.
“To the dealers that are pushing this poison, I have a message for you: We’re coming for you,” Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell says in the clip, with the menacing men at his sides and battle-ready music in the background.
“To the dealers I say: Enjoy looking over your shoulder constantly wondering if today’s the day we come for you. Enjoy trying to sleep tonight wondering if tonight’s the night our SWAT team blows your front door of the hinges. We’re coming for you...Run.”
ISIS claims responsibility for Palm Sunday church blasts in Egypt
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 video earned more than 570,000 views some praise on social media from residents who appreciated the stern words.
Most viewers, though, felt the clip came too close to presenting a militarized police force — or an ISIS propaganda clip.
“Wrong message here, projecting a militarized police state is not going to do nothing against drug dealers/traffickers and just promote more militarization,” one resident wrote in a Facebook comment for the clip.
“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.”
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,” one Twitter user quipped.
The sheriff’s office hasn’t 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 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. The 5th Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office recorded seven heroin deaths in 2015. The next year, it recorded 32 deaths. Florida saw 752 deaths stated that involved heroin, according to the state’s Department of Law Enforcement.