Targeted

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.

Key developments

Scroll down for complete coverage.

Read the investigation

The response: Here’s what the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office had to say about our September investigation

Additional coverage

May 4, 2021: Pasco school resource officers will no longer access student data

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.

March 12, 2021: DeSantis should consider removing Pasco sheriff, GOP congressman says

“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.

Feb. 6, 2021: Pasco sheriff’s campaign paid $15,000 to top Sheriff’s Office staffer

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.

Feb. 2, 2021: Bill aims to curb Florida’s data-driven policing programs

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.

Jan. 19, 2021: Pasco law enforcement needs more oversight, community groups say

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.

Dec. 15, 2020: Pasco superintendent defends sharing data with sheriff, as teachers object

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.

Dec. 11, 2020: Pasco PTA: Use of school data to flag potential criminals ‘unacceptable’

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.

Dec. 11, 2020: What Pasco’s elected school leaders say about the sheriff’s use of student data

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.

Dec. 5, 2020: Public interest groups take aim at Pasco sheriff’s data-driven policing programs

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

Kathleen McGrory

Kathleen McGrory is the deputy investigations editor at the Times. She was previously the newspaper’s health and medicine reporter. She joined the Times in 2015. [email protected]

Neil Bedi

Neil Bedi is an investigative reporter at the Times. He was previously a data reporter and developer on the investigations team. He joined the Times in 2016. [email protected]

Douglas R. Clifford

Douglas R. Clifford is a staff photojournalist at the Times. He joined the Times in 1998. [email protected]

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.

Additional credits

  • Editor: Adam Playford
  • Video editing: Jennifer Glenfield
  • Additional data analysis Connie Humburg
  • Print design: Sean Kristoff-Jones
  • Digital design: Neil Bedi