Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco took over in 2011 and set out to transform the Sheriff’s Office into a cutting-edge data-driven machine. The result is an intelligence operation that monitors, intimidates and harasses families across the county.
Read the investigation
Pasco’s sheriff uses data to guess who will commit crime. Then deputies ‘hunt down’ and harass them.
Sept. 3, 2020
Interactive: How a Florida Sheriff harasses families. Watch the body-cam video
Sept. 3, 2020
Pasco’s sheriff uses grades and abuse histories to secretly label schoolchildren potential criminals
Nov. 22, 2020
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco has a controversial approach — and powerful friends who don’t question it
Dec. 24, 2020
The response: Here’s what the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office had to say about our September investigation
- The Pasco Sheriff’s Office and the school board will no longer allow school resource officers to have access to student data, including grades and discipline histories. [May 4, 2021] The change came after the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into whether the school district’s data sharing practices broke federal law. [April 19, 2021]
- The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting an “intensive review” of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office’s latest intelligence program. [Sept. 10, 2021]
- Four people targeted by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office are suing the agency with the support of a national public interest law firm. They allege that their constitutional rights were violated and call for an end to the sheriff’s program. [March 11, 2021]
- Florida lawmakers have proposed two bills to curb the policing tactics used by the Sheriff’s Office. One bill would limit how law enforcement can target and police people who may commit crimes in the future. [Feb. 2, 2021] Another bill would require school districts to obtain written consent to share student data with law enforcement. [March 5, 2021]
- Civil liberties groups quickly denounced the Sheriff’s Office’s intelligence programs and promised to take action. [Dec. 5, 2020] Thirty national and state organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, CAIR Florida and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, later formed a coalition to oppose the Sheriff’s Office’s use of student data. [April 26, 2021]
- A national philanthropic foundation cut off funding to Pasco schools because of concerns with its data-sharing practices with the Sheriff’s Office. [Feb. 26, 2021]
Scroll down for complete coverage.
Sept. 10, 2021: Justice Department to review new Pasco intelligence effort
The federal agency expressed concerns with the program in an Aug. 6 letter to Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Aug. 17, 2021: Activists demand changes to Pasco school data program
A coalition wants the school district to stop giving student data to the Sheriff’s Office when not required by law.
Critics of the agency’s intelligence programs called the letter ‘patronizing’ and ‘offensive,’ and raised continued concerns about civil rights
The Sheriff’s Office and School Board amended their agreement that previously allowed school resource officers to access grades, discipline and more.
April 26, 2021: Coalition forms to oppose Pasco Sheriff intelligence program
A group of 30 national and state organizations have come together to oppose the Pasco County School District’s practice of sharing information with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
April 19, 2021: Feds investigating Pasco schools giving student data to sheriff
The Department of Education will look into whether the school district violated federal law by sharing personal student information without consent.
“I don’t care that this is being done by a GOP Sheriff,” U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz said on Twitter, referencing Sheriff Chris Nocco’s intelligence program.
March 11, 2021: Lawsuit: Pasco intelligence program violated citizens’ rights
A national public interest firm is representing the plaintiffs, who allege their First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were infringed upon.
March 5, 2021: Florida lawmakers take steps to limit school-data sharing
A Senate panel advanced a proposal that would require Florida school districts to obtain written consent from parents before releasing their children’s grades to law enforcement.
Feb. 26, 2021: Foundation cuts off Pasco schools, citing data sharing
The group, which had given the district more than $1 million in grants, called the practice of providing student data to police “contrary” to its values.
The employee oversees community relations, social media and lobbying for the Sheriff’s Office. He also recently filed paperwork to start a separate company with Nocco’s wife, a political fundraiser.
A state senator has filed a bill that would regulate how law enforcement agencies can use data to identify and target people who might break the law in the future.
Jan. 19, 2021: Congressman urges federal probe of Pasco school data program
“This use of student records goes against the letter and the spirit of (the federal student privacy law) and risks subjecting students, especially Black and Latino students, to excessive law enforcement interactions and stigmatization,” he said.
Activists in Pasco County are renewing calls for a citizen board to review allegations of police misconduct following a Tampa Bay Times investigation into the Sheriff’s Office’s use of data in policing.
Dec. 19, 2020: Privacy nonprofit: Pasco sheriff’s use of student data breaks federal law, school district contracts
A national digital privacy think tank said the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and Pasco County schools must immediately change a program that uses student data to identify potential future criminals to comply with federal law.
The comments followed a Times investigation that revealed the Sheriff’s Office was using grades to compile a list of kids at-risk of becoming criminals. “People post stuff to the internet,” he said.
Pasco County parents and teachers are calling for changes to a secretive Sheriff’s Office program that uses student data to profile schoolchildren as potential future criminals, with some demanding the practice be stopped entirely.
Times reporters asked the district and school board members for comment multiple times about the secret Sheriff’s Office program that identifies potential criminals using student data. Here is what they said.
One public interest law firm has sent mailers, looking for plaintiffs for a potential lawsuit against the policing agency. Several prominent civil rights groups are weighing legal action and public advocacy campaigns. The moves will bring a new level of scrutiny to Sheriff Chris Nocco’s intelligence-led policing initiative, which has grown for almost a decade with little notice or oversight.
About the reporters
Reach out to us: To tell us about your experiences with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and its intelligence-led policing program, email Kathleen McGrory at [email protected] and Neil Bedi at [email protected]. You can also use the encrypted messaging app, Signal, to contact the Tampa Bay Times investigations team at (727) 892-2944. For additional contact options, go to tampabay.com/tips.
- Editor: Adam Playford
- Video editing: Jennifer Glenfield
- Additional data analysis Connie Humburg
- Print design: Sean Kristoff-Jones
- Digital design: Neil Bedi