Police Abuse

Pasco County Cops Harassed Them and Searched Their Homes Without Warrants. A Judge Says They Can Sue.

The sheriff's predictive policing program has caused more problems than it's solved.

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It's not every day you receive a letter from the local police department congratulating you on your acceptance into an exclusive program. Such is the story shared by several residents in Pasco County, Florida, a community in the Tampa area. One problem: None of the recipients applied.

"We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to participate in a Prolific Offender Program," reads a letter from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (PCSO). "Research indicates that barriers to successful living may involve struggles with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, finding a job, or several other challenges many people face on a daily basis. It is possible you have struggled with some of these issues. If so, please know the Pasco Sheriff's Office is committed to support you in overcoming these challenges through this program."

The "support" it offers, originally detailed in an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, includes sending cadres of cops to people's homes, where officers show up unannounced, harassing them and their family members, performing warrantless searches on their homes, and trying to nab them on petty offenses, like having grass that is too tall. The lucky winners were "selected as a result of an evaluation of your recent criminal behavior," according to the PCSO, "using an unbiased, evidence-based risk assessment designed to identify prolific offenders in our community."

In other words, the program is ostensibly trying to keep people out of trouble and deter future criminal behavior before anything goes dramatically awry. That sounds well-intentioned on the surface. But its "relentless pursuit" of community members has ruthlessly entangled people with the state—including targets' family and friends—trampling over their Fourth Amendment rights in the process, says a recent lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.

Their clients received good news this week: Though the PCSO sought to have the suit dismissed on a litany of different grounds, a federal judge struck each down in a ruling issued on Wednesday, allowing the claim to proceed.

"The Fourth Amendment protects the right to be safe and secure in your person and property," says Ari Bargil, an attorney on the suit. "This program violates that right," he notes, "because it allows and requires Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputies to approach people at their home, harass them, refuse to leave, and in some instances demand entry without a warrant. These are obvious and clear Fourth Amendment violations."

Sheriff Chris Nocco, the brains behind the program, openly admitted that it's intended to do more than what the congratulatory letter implies: He hopes it will "take them out" of the community, he said, with one of his former employees conceding that their job was to "make their lives miserable until they move or sue."

Robert Jones, a plaintiff in the suit, had officers show up to his residence without warrants on multiple occasions. They came in groups as large as 18 deputies at a time, "banging on the windows and yelling at his young daughters while they were hiding inside under the bed," the lawsuit says. PCSO officers deemed him uncooperative and, in retaliation, cited him for property code violations—missing numbers on the mailbox, a trailer on the property, that pesky long grass. Failing to tell him they'd issued the citations, they arrested him three times over the course of six months because he didn't show up in court, as he wasn't aware he had been summoned.

But Jones wasn't even an intended target under the program. It was his son officers were monitoring. On one evening, they arrived at the residence, searched his room without a warrant, seized sandwich bags, and later arrested Jones' son, claiming the baggies came back positive for "trace amounts of marijuana."

Dalanea Taylor, another plaintiff in the suit, has a similar story, although she was actually an enrollee in the PCSO program. In her teenage years, Taylor committed a series of property crimes and was incarcerated from age 15–17, having been released in March 2017. She has not been in trouble with the law since, despite the PCSO's consistent attempts to change that.

Over the course of several years, deputies would arrive at Taylor's home unannounced, day and night, banging on the door, interrogating her and her roommates, and insisting that they be allowed to perform warrantless searches of the property. Her landlord, who was not a part of the program, received a code violation for trash in the yard after declining to indulge deputies on one of their visits.

In that vein, the PCSO's predictive policing model is a solution in search of a problem—except it just creates more problems. "The supposed purpose of the program is to keep people from committing crimes," says Bargil, "but what this ultimately accomplishes is an erosion of trust between people and police, and the continued involvement of people within the criminal justice system." Instead of turning people away from some future vision of a purported life of crime, it conjures that crime. And it arguably diverts resources away from things that actually matter.

"If we are ultimately successful in court, it doesn't mean that the Pasco County Sheriff's Office won't be able to keep its community safe," adds Bargil. "It'll only mean that it will have to keep its community safe within the parameters of the Fourth Amendment, just like every other town in America."

NEXT: Transportation Murder Mystery Departure Provides One Last Chance to Enjoy Christopher Plummer

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  1. I saw this movie, wasn’t Tom Cruise in it?

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    3. WOW, how dumb can cops get??!!?? After George Floyd they want citizens’ help or support? Cops have always been fascists, but this is out of line even for cops. Defund, and if possible, JAIL these worthless creeps.

    4. Cops are congenitally fascists. Do not EVER fold to their desires as they have ZERO power over you unless they find you in the middle of an obvious crime. Since cops do little to nothing to reduce crime or solve crimes it is past time to defund the police.

  2. Is the Sheriff not an elected position in Pasco County? This program seems like a good way to lose your job.

    Or perhaps the residents actually support this idea because the Sheriff hasn’t targeted them personally (yet).

    1. Most people never interact with the cops other than traffic violations. That’s because, with a few notable exceptions that are all big cities, there really aren’t that many crimes with actual victims.
      If all victimless crimes were struck from the books most small towns wouldn’t even need a police department. Those departments exist for the sole purpose of enforcing petty diktats from busybodies in town councils.

      1. My town is 700 people and we have had a major uptick in criminal theft because we have no police department and rely on the sheriff’s office which arrives long after the perpetrators have absconded. On Facebook there is daily postings about underage drivers speeding, property destruction and property theft.

        1. I don’t know about your town, but the one I just moved from paid the state and the county to have a couple guys available for emergency calls. Mostly they just camped out and handed out speeding tickets, but there were able to respond fairly quickly on the rare occasions they were needed.

          1. I bet your ex appreciated that.

          2. Screetch says that his limited experience means that’s reality for everyone else.

            My guess is he peed himself when he got pulled over for going 5 mph over.

            1. You don’t have to worry about getting pulled over for not buckling up do ya seatbelt?

              A town I used to live in would do seatbelt stings. I never worried about it, but it’s still stupid…

        2. Do you live near Terry?

          I’m pretty sure he muted me because he’s a Mormon lover.

          He seems like a decent guy. Except for the Mormon loving…

        3. Assuming your town has it’s own court, have the town prosecutor (if you even have one) stand down for V&T cases, and make sure the deputies know that it’s on them to prosecute V&T tickets.

          You’ll soon have a handful of deputies hanging around town looking to generate some overtime.

        4. Sorry, but your complaint about cops is the same as what you get from the Sherif’s office, and I know this as a friend of mine has a dad who is a sheriff , and is as useless as most cops are. Your only hope for safety is a pistol of your own. Cops exist mostly to clean up the blood.

        5. Having your own PD likely wouldn’t help much on the theft front. The national average clearance rate for property crimes is under 26%.

          And that measures arrests, not convictions.

    2. Not to endorse this program in any way but often a disproportionate amount of crime is committed by a relatively small minority of individuals.

      Targeting people who commit crimes as often as others go to work and disrupting their ability to violate others doesn’t seem bad in the abstract but is all kinds of easily abused bad in reality.

      1. Ok, I’m a grouch. To me it DOES seem bad in the abstract.

    3. Having been a resident of Pasco County, sadly, there were way too many scumbags in the county that loved this kind of shit. Pasco has had a really bad time with corrupt assed Sheriffs and Deputies since the 90s. Nocco is a POS who should be rotting in prison for the shit he’s pulled but he’s insulated like all the other bottom-feeding “Law & Order” scum that think the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

    4. Wasn’t George Floyd enough for these dumb as rocks cops? I’d rather trust the mafia than the average cop! In MN I was pulled over by a cop for……wait……. driving in the center lane of of four lane highway. We need cops for only two things:

      1.)protecting judges and others in court (criminals have been known to attack those who might be in court for a trial)
      2.)Making sure coffee shops have enough patrons.

  3. We’re here from the guberment and we’re here to help!

    1. Sadly (*sarc*) there are so few problems that can be solved with governmental meddling, incompetence, arrogance, and sloth.

  4. These guys sound like the “funny” Nazi death camp guards.

    1. Every bit as true-to-life as Hogan’s Heroes!

      1. I agree that ‘funny Nazis’ is a peculiar concept but I would point out two things;

        Authoritarians loathe being mocked (just as these Pasco idiots would loathe being compared to Boss Hogg)

        And

        Hogan’s Heroes took place in a POW camp, a vastly different proposition from a concentration camp.

        1. A POW camp run, moreover, by the Luftwaffe. In other words, run by Goering not Himmler. Goering was the MUCH funnier of the two—seriously, check out his uniforms (especially that pink one)!

          1. Goering may have been funny. He was very intelligent. During his oriescuton by the Allies, they administered IQ tests to all the Nazi leaders they captured. Goering scored 138.


  5. one of his former employees conceding that their job was to “make their lives miserable until they move or sue.”

    Because after all, if they get sued they don’t actually pay anything or lose their jobs or anything like that. Guess we’ll see about that.

    1. “barriers to successful living may involve struggles with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, finding a job, or several other challenges many people face on a daily basis”

      It’s not government’s job to address these issues (except domestic violence which is one person harming another), as their job is to protect our lives, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness from others who’d harm us, including from sheriff’s deputies who show up to bother us.

      Your point about them being sued is valid. A small community paying millions in taxes due to civil rights violations by government employees with a resulting tax increase will matter. Especially to the guy running against the sheriff in office, and the people who pay taxes.

  6. Meanwhile, from his private lounge at the Khmer Rouge Country Club, Paul Krugman had more to tell us about how to improve society.

    Krugman explains that “when people on the right talk about ‘freedom’ what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.”

    1. No matter the colour, these Harvard educated elites are the wealthiest, most privileged people in the history of the world; and yet they pule and groan about microaggressions, triggers, being othered, safe spaces, and their own personal pronouns.
      As if any of that shit matters, or ever could matter. Fuck them, and fuck their enablers like Krugman.

      1. Y’all f*ck them. I’m picky about where I put that.

      2. “Puke”—learned a new word today, and a good one at that! Thanks

  7. This is real life copying Gilbert Shelton Freak Brothers comix.

  8. “It’ll only mean that it will have to keep its community safe within the parameters of the Fourth Amendment, just like every other town in America.”
    I love IJ but I’m pretty sure Pasco county isn’t the only jurisdiction shitting on 4A.

    1. That would be every police department in all 50 states.

      1. Not quite. You see in New York, they pee on the 4th amendment rather than shitting on it.

  9. How long before the courts and politicians, mostly DEMs, invalidate the Constitution? Will some in the big business community allow themselves to let China control them for more bucks. Will many any educators continue to push for trashing?

    1. They already have done so. This is a post Constitution America brought to us by lefties, democrats, the courts, lawyers, the military and the intelligence services. Welcome to hell.

  10. “We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to participate in a Prolific Offender Program,” reads a letter from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).

    Respond back with a copy of the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments. Or maybe just a copy of the entire Constitution.

    1. They’ll wipe their asses with it.

      When cops are involved we have no rights. We might in court, but not in the presence of the police. They do whatever they want because they face no consequences for their actions.

      I think I posted a link above to a police department advertising QI as a perk of the job. Think about that. QI is a shield that lets cops violate our rights with impunity. And they actively seek people who see that as a good thing.

  11. And nothing else happened

  12. A Judge Says They Can Sue!!!

  13. Wow, another WIN for the 4th Amendment and The Constitution.

    The Woke are having fits.

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  15. I suppose “allowing them” to sue is a start. But really, if there’s any justice, everyone involved in designing and running this program should go to prison.

    And then, after they get out of prison, any person who they targeted in this program — or any person those who were targeted choose to “deputize” — should be allowed to come over to the police perpetrators’ houses at any time of day or night and rummage through their stuff, hold them hostage in their own homes, everything the police were allowed to do. Those “invited” to this program should be able to do this and harass the police involved for the rest of their lives.

    Isn’t that what the police got to do? Why shouldn’t the victims be able to do it back to them?

    Seriously, this is the only way police are going to get the message that this crap isn’t acceptable. Law enforcement is a public trust. You violate that trust knowingly and deliberately? You should pay a far worse price than the average citizen.

    1. “Public trust” means the gang trusts you enough to let you join their ranks. Once you’re part of the gang you get to do whatever you want. And as long as you remain loyal to the gang, they’ll have your back no matter what you do to the average citizen. In private they openly mock the idea of use having rights.

      Think about it. What happens when a good cop rats out a bad cop? The bad cop gets a paid vacation while the good cop gets fired and blackballed.

      Because fuck you, that’s why.

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  18. For an interesting story about a corrupt police organization, look up “The Athens War”. It is about corrupt policing in and around Athens Tennessee in the 1930’s and 40’s.

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