The New Tampa PD initiative is startlingly similar to the dystopian film.
So what was it all for?
Why did we all have to squint through the dimly lit cinematography of Minority Report, watching Tom Cruise get his eyes gouged out and being forced to root for a cop, if we, as a society, weren't going to learn the one lesson it was trying to teach us: that you can't predict crime.
Minority Report has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes — which is probably generous, but still — and lives on in the cultural lexicon as a warning. When referenced, people are usually pointing out corruption within the system or forewarning us about the potential evils of the powers that be.
In the past, it had been compared to the school-to-prison pipeline, which the ACLU defines as: "a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out."
In effect, this culminates in policing in schools, zero tolerance policies, underfunding in low income communities, and lack of resources. All of these combined, money that could be going to student learning instead goes to pushing out lower performing students, who are often at higher risk of being incarcerated.
Even more harrowing than this indirect analogy, however, is the new Tampa Police initiative which literally sounds as though someone watched the first five minutes of Minority Report and didn't get to the end.
The agency has a separate program that uses schoolchildren’s grades, attendance records and abuse histories to labe… https://t.co/gtIYDl1KDT— Julia Davis (@Julia Davis) 1627274974.0
According to the Tampa Bay Times, "Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco took over in 2011 and set out to transform the Sheriff's Office into a cutting-edge data-driven machine. The result is an intelligence operation that monitors, intimidates and harasses families across the county."
The Sheriff's Office apparently sent out a four-page notice to people they deemed "prolific offenders" as part of the "Prolific Offender Program."
The letter read: "You were selected as a result of an evaluation of your recent criminal behavior using an unbiased, evidence-based risk assessment designed to identify prolific offenders in our community."
The letter used language like "accountability" to warp the language of activism abolition to fit its own agenda of blatant targeting and over-policing.
An investigation into the program revealed that it used school district data, like grades and attendance, to identify people for the program.
And though the common myth that states plan new prison capacities using inner-city test scores is false, the Pasco Intel program really did classify potential criminals based on academic performance.
(!!!) “The Times also found that the agency has a separate program that uses schoolchildren’s grades, attendance re… https://t.co/yMuPA6c0qE— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D) 1627280373.0
But don't worry! Despite the recent mainstream attention to the idea of police abolition and the blatant racism ingrained in the US system of policing, the Tampa Police Department has claimed that "racial profiling is not an issue." Phew!
But despite their claims, national outrage from the program sparked some change.
At first, wary of the Office's access and use of Pasco school district data, some national charities pulled out their funding — having adverse effects on the schools themselves. However, soon after, national and state groups came together to speak out against the program, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, CAIR Florida and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The solidarity has since made Florida courts propose a bill to limit this behavior in the future — but the fact that this even has to be done is proof that we live in the worst timeline.