PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is defending its controversial intelligence-led policing program. Critics said the program profiles people who might be likely to commit a crime, even if no crime has been committed.

The Sheriff’s Office denies those claims and defends the program, though it’s currently facing several legal challenges. A federal judge is expected to make a decision in the next couple of months.

The Sheriff’s Office said it’s never engaged in predictive policing, however, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said he was arrested six times but never charged with a crime.

“There were numbers on my house that I was renting, but there was a motion sensor light above it, and because you would walk up to it the motion sensor light would come on and they called that my numbers not being visible from the street and they arrested me for that they took me to jail,” said Robert Jones.

Jones said it all began in 2015, when his family moved to Pasco County.

“They’re not just arresting people, they’re targeting people,” he said. “They were doing anything they could to take me to jail.”

Jones said he was “harassed” by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Chris Nocco.

“I served six different times in jail, all ordinance violations,” said Jones.

Jones and three other plaintiff’s claim their 4th amendment rights were violated in a federal lawsuit filed two years ago. The four plaintiffs are represented by Ari Bargil, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice.

“The challenge is a constitutional challenge to the sheriff’s offices, habit of predictive policing specifically identifying people who they thought were likely to commit future crimes, placing them on less and subjecting them to warrantless suspicion less searches at their property,” said Bargil.

Pasco Intelligence Led Policing was put in place by Sheriff Nocco a decade ago. Critics allege that the program uses various factors to determine if someone may be likely to commit a crime and that the sheriff’s office has harassed some Pasco citizens on that basis. The sheriff’s office denies the allegation and is fighting the lawsuit.

This is the full statement from the Sheriff’s Office:

“The Pasco Sheriff’s Office continues to stand behind the intelligence-led policing philosophy and continues to note that the Sheriff’s Office does not now, nor have we ever, engaged in predictive policing.

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office looks forward to continuing to defend against these allegations in the appropriate venue and will not litigate through the media. However, over the several years long timespan that these lawsuits have been filed, it is natural for any law enforcement agency to adapt practices to continue to best serve our community, just as we had done before any lawsuits. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office strenuously disagrees with any other characterization or purported reasoning behind any changes made in other reporting.

In addition, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office would also like to note additional court rulings in the favor of the Sheriff’s Office in these cases that have not been reported on as noted below in cases regarding former agency members:

Orders and judgments have been entered in PSO’s favor in all such cases to this point. The Orders dismissed all of these cases, including one filed by a member who was terminated for serious violations of policy involving falsification of documents; one who resigned under investigation of allegations involving an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant; and one who had a lengthy disciplinary history and resigned following a sustained allegation of failing to take suitable action. The Orders of dismissal noted in great detail the serious issues with their claims and entered judgments in favor of PSO in these cases.

Additionally, another case involving a former PSO employee who resigned after serious issues regarding leadership, was also dismissed. The case was originally filed as five counts against PSO, and all five counts have been dismissed by the judge, with one pending appeal.

These developments were also preceded by another former member who made false claims that PSO threatened to harm to his K9, then voluntarily withdrew his case and agreed, in a stipulated order, that PSO was the prevailing party in the matter and that the claimant will pay all of PSO’s legal costs incurred in defending this meritless matter. 

Attorneys in these cases further signed an agreement acknowledging the judges’ determination that these claims were frivolous and agreeing to pay fees incurred by PSO in defending the claims. It was important to PSO that these legal fees for these frivolous and false claims be borne by the claimants, and not the taxpayers of Pasco County.

It is disappointing that these same lawsuits and claimants were used as a basis and held out to be credible sources for media outlets attempting to tarnish the reputation of the Sheriff’s Office, including an attempt to state the Sheriff’s Office uses predictive policing, despite our continued assertions to allow these lawsuits to be adjudicated in the appropriate venue. 

It is also disappointing that no media outlets did any due diligence on these claimants, which would have revealed the very serious issues regarding their actions during their employment at the Sheriff’s Office.

As these lawsuits described above were the impetus for much media speculation and reporting, we are disappointed these updates regarding the dismissals and judgments in PSO’s favor were not reported.”

It’s been eight years, Jones said deputies still sit outside his Holiday home.

“What happens when you call the police and they’re the ones that are out there doing it who else do you call? Who do you call Ghostbusters? Yeah that’s the problem,” said Jones. “The people that you want to depend on the most to help you in the time of need should not be the same person who is terrorizing your house.”

We gave the Sheriff to chance to go on camera and explain this, but the Sheriff’s Office declined saying this is ongoing litigation.