Pasco woman sues sheriff’s office saying he violated rights with ‘predictive policing’
Pasco County woman sues Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco after he said MPs implementing the Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) agency’s controversial program violated his constitutional rights.
Eileen Kates is the last resident of Pasco to accuse the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) from violating constitutional protections through its predictive policing program, which Nocco himself likened to prescience in the movie Minority Report.
Kates said deputies searching for her son, who was on parole due to an aggravated stalking conviction, engaged in a campaign of intimidation and harassment in a bid to keep tabs on his son.
Creation of Nocco the program shortly after taking over the organization in 2011. The ILP program targets people it deems likely to reoffend using their criminal history and intelligence gathering. Nocco praised the program for reducing crimes like auto theft and burglary in the county, even though neighboring jurisdictions saw similar reductions without predictive policing.
But details of the program were not made public until a 2020 Tampa Bay Times Survey. The Times found that Nocco’s deputies made repeated home visits to families and individuals associated with a targeted offender. Often, deputies would visit these people at random times of the night and morning without a warrant or suspicion of a crime. As part of the program, deputies would also use minor code enforcement violations as reason to interrogate and even arrest family members of their targets.
A former MP told The Times the program was less about preventing crime and more about making “lives miserable until they move out or sue”.
The Times investigation body camera footage discovered of certain ILP visits displaying the questionable behavior.
Kates said she experienced all of that and more after her son was released on parole and became a target of the ILP.
According to Kates, deputies started showing up at her house to pick up her son in March. When she informed deputies that her son did not live there, she said they had taken vehicle information or searched around his property.
The lawsuit describes several cases.
“On March 21, 2021, at around 2am, several PCSO MPs once again returned to Ms Kates’ home in what quickly became a patently clear attempt to harass and intimidate. PCSO deputies proceeded to search the perimeter of the house, patrolling the backyard, walking around the screened porch and looking into the house, using flashlights to aid in their search. After knocking loudly on the door and surprising Ms Kates and her family, PCSO MPs asked again for Ms Kates’ son. Ms Kates again informed MEPs that Ryan did not reside there and repeatedly asked the deputies to vacate his property, but the deputies did not acquiesce for some time,” the lawsuit states.
Kates said deputies acted above the law on numerous occasions, including when she tried to defend herself after several late-night inquiries at her home.
“Ms. Kates told the deputies that their behavior amounted to harassment and that if they continued to show up without a warrant, she should call the cops to report them,” the lawsuit said.
“A deputy replied, ‘We’re the cops’, while another deputy told Ms. Kates that if she called 911 she would be arrested. Ms Kates replied that she knew her rights, to which PCSO Deputy Hamilman replied: ‘Yes, your rights will get you killed and arrested.’ Deputies then turned their attention to gathering vehicle information and any citations they could give Ms Kates regarding a vehicle on her property.
Florida Politics has reached out to the PCSO for comment, Deputy Hamilman’s full name and more.
According to the lawsuit, deputies cited a code enforcement violation regarding the numbering of his home as justification for coming to his property. When she asked if other houses in the area were also named, she was told, “No, but they’re not hiding someone who is committing a crime either,” the suit said.
“Ms. Kates has become paralyzed with fear and is often unable to leave her home even for basic needs as she fears police reprisals,” the lawsuit said. “This is especially true when PCSO deputies are constantly posted in front of her house.”
Kates said the sheriff violated her First Amendment right to free association with her son; its Fourteenth Amendment protects liberty against the arbitrary, irrational, and pretextual application of the law; and its Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. She is asking for 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 this day, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office continues to successfully defend itself against similar and frivolous lawsuits. was not developed by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and is currently employed by many law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area and the State of Florida.The ILP philosophy attempts to connect those who have already committed offenses with resources to break the cycle of recidivism This ILP philosophy has led to a reduction in crime and victimization in our community and we will not apologize for the continued efforts to keep our community safe.
According to Pasco County court records, Kate’s son was arrested in June for harassment and assault.