PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis use his authority to remove a Pasco County sheriff accused of overseeing a policing program that improperly targeted and harassed residents.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Tampa federal court, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco was accused of punishing people "for crimes they have not committed and may never commit" - in a practice called predictive policing.
Harassment claims in the lawsuit include "relentless visits to their homes at all hours of the day," "unwarranted stops and seizures," and "repeated citations for petty code violations."
The program allegedly violates first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights, according to the Institute for Justice.
On Twitter, Gaetz said he didn't care if the policing was being done by a GOP sheriff.
"It's awful to harass citizens because you think they may commit crimes, hoping to 'make their lives miserable,'" Gaetz wrote, adding that DeSantis had the authority to remove Nocco and that he "should consider doing so."
Nocco's office calls the description of the program false and its Intelligence-Led Policing program is guided by a person’s criminal history or a school student’s characterization as being at risk.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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