Florida sheriff’s department draws sharp criticism for 'advanced surveillance' program: 'This is insane'

Florida sheriff’s department draws sharp criticism for 'advanced surveillance' program: 'This is insane'

In the Tampa, Florida area, the Pasco County Sheriff's Department has been drawing criticism for an "advanced scrutiny" program in which some residents have been selected for surveillance — even if they aren't actually under investigation for a suspected crime.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Kathleen McGrory explains, "The (Pasco) Sheriff's Office creates lists of people it considers likely to break the law based on criminal histories, social networks and other unspecified intelligence. The agency sends deputies to their homes repeatedly, often without a search warrant or probable cause for an arrest."

According to McGrory, "Targets and their relatives, including four who are now suing the Sheriff's Office in federal court, described the tactics as harassment and a violation of their constitutional rights. National policing experts drew comparisons to child abuse and surveillance that could be expected under an authoritarian regime."

The Pasco Sheriff's Department launched its "advanced scrutiny" program in 2020, and those who are selected for surveillance are notified via a letter. Raniah Elgendi of the Council of American-Islamic Relations-Florida views the letter as a form of harassment.

McGrory quotes Elgendi as saying, "The letter is basically threatening and promising a certain level of harassment and oversight that is in line with the stories we are hearing from the community. We know that is not what makes people or communities more safe, this heightened level of surveillance."

Bacardi Jackson, managing attorney for Florida at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Times that the letter is "so incredibly patronizing and offensive on so many levels."

Reporting on the Pasco Sheriff's Department has drawn a lot of reactions on Twitter. Liberal pundit Jason Johnson, who often appears on MSNBC, tweeted:

Here are some other Twitter reactions:

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