She’s not the first Pasco resident to sue over the controversial practice.
A Pasco County woman is suing Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco after she said deputies enforcing the agency’s controversial Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) program violated her constitutional rights.
Eileen Kates is the latest Pasco resident to accuse the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) of violating constitutional protections through its predictive policing program, which Nocco himself has likened to prescience in the film Minority Report.
Kates said deputies searching for her son, who was on parole related to an aggravated stalking conviction, engaged in a campaign of intimidation and harassment in an effort to keep tabs on her son.
Nocco established the program shortly after taking over the organization in 2011. The ILP program targets individuals who it finds likely to reoffend using their criminal history and intelligence gathering. Nocco praised the program for reducing crimes like car theft and burglary in the county, even though nearby jurisdictions saw similar reductions without predictive policing.
But details of the program were not made public until a 2020 Tampa Bay Times investigation. The Times found Nocco’s deputies made repeated visits to the homes of family and individuals associated with a targeted offender. Often, the deputies would visit those individuals at random hours of the night and morning without a warrant or suspicion of a crime. Under the program, deputies also would use minor code enforcement violations as a reason to question and even arrest family members of their targets.
One former deputy told the Times the program was less about crime prevention and more about making “lives miserable until they move or sue.”
The Times investigation uncovered bodycam footage of some ILP visits displaying the questionable behavior.
Kates said she experienced all that and more after her son was released on parole and became a target of ILP.
According to Kates, deputies began showing up to her house to look for her son in March. When she informed deputies her son didn’t live there, she said they took information on vehicles or searched around her property.
The lawsuit describes several instances.
“On March 21, 2021, at around 2 a.m., several PCSO deputies returned yet again to Ms. Kates’ home in what quickly became a patently clear attempt to harass and intimidate. PCSO deputies proceeded to search the curtilage of the home, patrolling the backyard, walking around the screened lanai, and peering into the home, using flashlights to aid their search. After banging loudly on the door and startling Ms. Kates and her family, PCSO deputies again asked for Ms. Kates’ son. Ms. Kates again informed deputies that Ryan did not reside there, and repeatedly asked deputies to leave her property, but deputies did not acquiesce for some time,” the suit said.
Kates said the deputies acted above the law on many occasions, including when she tried to defend herself after multiple late-night investigations at her home.
“Ms. Kates told the deputies that their behavior amounted to harassment and if they kept showing up without a warrant, she would have to call the cops to report them,” the suit said.
“One deputy responded, ‘We are the cops’ while another deputy told Ms. Kates that if she called 911 on them, she would be arrested. Ms. Kates responded that she knew her rights to which PCSO Deputy Hamilman responded, ‘Yup your rights will get you dead and arrested.’ Deputies then turned their attention to collecting vehicle information and discussing what citations they could give Ms. Kates regarding a vehicle on her property.”
Florida Politics has reached out to PCSO for comment, Deputy Hamilman’s full name and more.
According to the suit, deputies cited a code enforcement violation over the numbering of her home to justify coming on her property. When she asked whether other homes in the area also were cited, she was told, “Nope, but they’re also not hiding someone who is committing a felony,” the suit said.
“Ms. Kates has become crippled with fear and is often unable to leave her home for even basic needs as she is afraid of police retaliation,” the suit said. “This is especially true when PCSO deputies are constantly stationed outside her home.”
Kates said the Sheriff violated her First Amendment right to free association with her son; her Fourteenth Amendment protection of freedom from arbitrary, irrational and pretextual enforcement of the law; and her Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure. She is seeking monetary damages as well as an end to the ILP program.
In a statement to Florida Politics, Public Information Officer Amanda Hunter defended the agency and its practice.
“The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is aware of the lawsuit and looks forward to defending these allegations in the appropriate forum,” Hunter said. “To date, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office continues to be successful in defending against similar, frivolous lawsuits. As a reminder, intelligence-led policing is a philosophy that began in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, was not developed by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, and is currently employed by numerous law enforcement agencies across the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida. The ILP philosophy attempts to connect those who have previously offended with resources to break the cycle of recidivism. This ILP philosophy has lead to a reduction in crime and reduction in victimization in our community and we will not apologize for continued efforts to keep our community safe.”
According to Pasco County Court records, Kate’s son was arrested in June on stalking and assault charges.
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