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Florida Matters

After Making Few Changes, Pasco Sheriff Continues Controversial Policing Tactics

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Daylina Miller
/
WUSF Public Media
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in 2017

After a Tampa Bay Times investigation that won a Pulitzer Prize highlighted harassment allegations late last year, criticism ensued.

On this week’s Florida Matters, we get an update on a controversial program adopted by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

About a decade ago, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco adopted “predictive policing.”

The idea is to use data to stop potential offenders before they commit crimes. Deputies pay frequent visits to the homes of residents deemed "prolific offenders."

Many on the list were children.

After a Tampa Bay Times investigation highlighted harassment allegations late last year, criticism ensued.

A federal investigation is underway over the program’s use of data from the county school system. And several parents are suing the sheriff’s department.

Last month, a team of investigative reporters at the Tampa Bay Times recently won a Pulitzer Prize for their work uncovering problems with the program.

Kathleen McGrory was part of that team. She is now the editor in charge of the paper’s investigations team.

Host Bradley George spoke with her about the series of stories and the problems her team uncovered.

McGrory said that while the uncovering of the program has created calls to dismantle it, the agency has made seemingly few changes. And the sheriff’s office continues to stand by the program.

Later on, you’ll hear from members of the PASCO Coalition, which is opposed to the predictive policing program

The PASCO Coalition, or People Against the Surveillance of Children and Overpolicing, is a consortium of about 90 civil rights groups that are challenging the program.

George spoke with two people involved. Anthony Ashton is an attorney with the NAACP. Anisha Reddy is privacy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum.

You can listen to Bradley’s full conversations with McGrory, Ashton and Reddy by clicking on the “Listen” button. Or you can listen to the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

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