FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 14, 2020
Contact: Steven Nekhaila,
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Florida
KEY WEST, Fla. – We’ve all heard of the growing erosion of privacy due to federal and state surveillance. Now we have a Florida county sheriff who’s taking a leap further: attempting to predict crimes.
Like something out of Philip K. Dick’s 1956 “Minority Report” short story, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco uses something called “Intelligence-Led Policing” to do what he describes as “proactively address future concerns before they arise.” Many consider that to mean harass and threaten targeted individuals, their family and friends. One woman reported she recorded deputies shining flashlights into her home while she was away.
The astonishing “Targeted” investigation was published in the Tampa Bay Times Sept. 3.[i]
According to the Times, a special team of 30 investigators comb social media, police records, bank statements and surveillance records to establish a list of individuals they conclude are “not likely to reform.”
From the Times:
“The people on the list are what the department calls “prolific offenders.” The manual describes them as individuals who have “taken to a career of crime” and are “not likely to reform.”
Potential prolific offenders are first identified using an algorithm the department invented that gives people scores based on their criminal records. People get points each time they’re arrested, even when the charges are dropped. They get points for merely being a suspect.
The Pasco sheriff’s intelligence team uses something called “prolific offender calculations” to establish targets. Lists of likely crime suspects based on arrest history, undefined “surveillance” and “arbitrary decisions by police analysts,” reports the Times. With the lists, officers in the Strategic Targeted Area Response teams pursue the individuals, often without any other probable cause than being on the list.
Late-night raids are conducted, family and friends are approached, according to the Times. The mother of one teenage subject was issued a $2,500 fine for having chickens in her yard. The Times notes that of the addresses visited most often, more than half were teenagers. One 14-year-old teen committed suicide after being targeted even though he had begun to turn his life around.
The LPF’s Platform states, in part:
“We believe in the right of privacy to all lawful citizens and condemn and oppose any attempts to subvert this right. We hold dear the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 23 of the Constitution of Florida, which both lawfully guarantee the government’s absence from intruding on the personal life of the individual. We oppose all measures to collect, mine, share, and distribute data on citizens without a warrant by State or Federal courts.”
The Libertarian Party of Florida abhors this practice and calls on the citizens of Pasco County to reconsider funding this $2.8 million program. In a time when policing is under scrutiny throughout the nation, we believe this is the wrong approach. Law enforcement should only be brought into play when there has been an offense against person, property or civil right. It should never be used to create criminals.
– By J. Mark Barfield, Staff Writer
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