NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said he wants to provide "enhanced transparency" for citizens, and that a recent appointment was his first step toward that goal.
Nocco appointed Sheriff's Office General Counsel Lindsay Moore the agency's first Constitutional Policing Advisor at a March 23 press conference, "to ensure the highest level of transparency and openness" with citizens. Nocco said the move was unrelated to a recent, ongoing internal investigation in the agency.
Constitutional policing ensures that the conduct of law enforcement officers protects the civil rights of citizens and is within the boundaries of the U.S. constitution, state legislation and the rapidly changing court decisions that shape everyday policing practices.
Providing Miranda warnings and following the Fourth Amendment related to search and seizure are examples of those laws.
"We're making sure that every decision we make, whether it be through training, general orders ... That we abide by the law and do what is right every day," Nocco said.
Moore will track new case trends and laws, ensure agency policies are in line with constitutional law, publish alerts for agency members about law changes and hold Sheriff's Office training on these issues.
"The goal of constitutional policing is to work to fix problems before they arrive, rather than reacting to them," Moore said at the conference.
At the same time, Nocco appointed Capt. Eric Seltzer as the "agency captain." He will oversee training agency members. Both Moore and Seltzer will be liaisons between the Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's office regarding concerns with ongoing cases. Seltzer also will be a liaison to other criminal justice system partners, such as judges and attorneys.
The two will address any citizen complaints the office receives.
"Our intent is to strengthen what we do, to continue to get better," Seltzer said.
Nocco said the idea to introduce a constitutional policing advisor began swirling "months ago," after agency leaders saw a growing number of law enforcement agencies around the country introducing similar positions, specifically those in Los Angeles.
The Sheriff's Office has not had complaints about unconstitutional conduct by deputies, Nocco said, calling the new appointment a proactive measure.
Moore's appointment came two days after Nocco announced an internal investigation, which began when the Sheriff's Office discovered that supervisors failed, for nearly three months, to act in the case of a deputy tampering with evidence.
Also at the earlier press conference, Nocco announced the resignation of Sheriff's Office District 1 leader Capt. James Steffens, who oversaw the deputy. Nocco said the internal investigation could result in more resignations and more charges against the deputy.
Pasco residents want to make sure that law enforcement is "doing the right thing for the right reasons," Nocco said.
This new style of policing, he said, should restore citizen confidence that deputies are doing just that.
"(Constitutional policing) enhances our members so that they're kept up with the different procedures," Nocco said. "This is one of those things that we're just constantly going back and reviewing to make sure that we're on top of it."
Contact TyLisa C. Johnson at email@example.com. Follow @tylisajohnson.