PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Four Pasco County parents have teamed up with a national public interest firm in an effort to end a policing program they say unconstitutionally targets people and violates their rights.
The Institute for Justice is looking to shut down the county's "predictive policing" program accused of targeting "future criminals."
“Pasco’s program seems like it was ripped from the pages of a dystopian sci-fi novel and not a manual on effective police strategies,” Institute for Justice Attorney Ari Bargil said. “This program isn’t just unethical, it’s patently unconstitutional to use a crude computer calculation to target, harass, fine, and even arrest citizens who have done nothing wrong.”
The lawsuit claims that the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office "punishes people for crimes they have not yet committed and may never commit."
Harassment claims in the lawsuit include "relentless visits to their homes at all hours of the day," "unwarranted stops and seizures," and "repeated citations for petty code violations."
The program allegedly violates first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights, according to the Institute for Justice.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office website refers to the program as "The Intelligence-Led Policing Section." Analysts in the program identify problems in the community and work to "reduce crime, disrupt criminal networks, and prevent future crimes from occurring," according to the sheriff's office.
10 Tampa Bay reached out to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office who says it has not been served with any lawsuit regarding the program.
Here is the full statement from PCSO:
"We have not been made aware or served any lawsuit like the one you mentioned, so we are unable to comment on such. However, it is interesting to note that continually the media is made aware of these instances prior to PSO's knowledge of them. We look forward to defending any lawsuits in which we may be named in the proper venue and will not be party to litigation via the media. Additionally, we have significant issues with what the lawsuit and previous reporting by other outlets alleges."
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