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Federal judge rejects sheriff's office's attempt to dismiss lawsuit challenging 'predictive policing' program

The ruling means the families who filed the lawsuit will have their day in court.

TAMPA, Fla — A federal judge rejected the Pasco County Sheriff's motion to dismiss a case against Sheriff Chris Nocco's Orwellian "predictive policing" program, the Institute of Justice said in a release Wednesday. 

In a lawsuit filed by Pasco County families back in March, Nocco was accused of punishing people "for crimes they have not committed and may never commit" - in a practice called predictive policing. 

Judge Steven D. Merryday issued an order denying the Pasco County sheriff's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

"Today’s decision is an important step toward the ultimate dismantling of the program," Ari Bargil, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents the families

Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis use his authority to remove a Pasco County sheriff accused of overseeing a policing program that improperly targeted and harassed residents.

Nocco's office calls the description of the program false and its Intelligence-Led Policing program is guided by a person’s criminal history or a school student’s characterization as being at risk.

The program allegedly violates first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights, according to the Institute for Justice.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

RELATED: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz suggests Gov. DeSantis remove Pasco County sheriff

RELATED: Pasco County parents sue sheriff's office over 'predictive policing' program