Chris Nocco to seek fourth term as Pasco County Sheriff

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'From keeping your neighborhood safe to protecting our children at school, your Pasco Sheriff’s Office is highly trained and ready to answer any call.'

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco would like voters to give him another four years as the county’s top cop.

“The successes we’ve had as a team at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office could only be possible by the dedicated deputies and staff working together with our community as one — with one mission — to put criminals behind bars and keep our community safe,” Nocco said in his campaign announcement. “We won’t allow people who choose to break the law any sanctuary in Pasco County.”

Nocco said, under his leadership, crime in Pasco County has dropped by more than half, and he said the agency has been and remains a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Among Nocco’s top issues to date are combating the fentanyl crisis, holding drug dealers accountable and focusing on the county’s most vulnerable, including children.

“In Pasco County, our community supports public safety — they support our Sheriff’s Office, the true meaning of our motto ‘We Fight As One’ — and I’m proud to lead one of the most professional, innovative and efficient Sheriff’s offices in Florida,” he said. “From keeping your neighborhood safe to protecting our children at school, your Pasco Sheriff’s Office is highly trained and ready to answer any call.”

Nocco was first appointed to the job in 2011 by then-Gov. Rick Scott. Since then he has been re-elected consecutively without opposition. Nocco is now seeking re-election to a fourth term.

As of Wednesday, it appears Nocco won’t get off so easily this election cycle. A no-party candidate, Ron Holstein Jr., has filed to run against the incumbent Republican.

His campaign Facebook page contains some references to a scandal that has plagued Pasco County for years, particularly its Sheriff.

Nocco implemented a program of predictive policing, which after the Tampa Bay Times published a Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on it became the subject of federal investigations and several lawsuits. Under the now-defunct program, individuals deemed to be at high risk of breaking the law were checked on in what amounted to, based on reports, harassment and intimidation.

Even U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, also a Republican, criticized Nocco for the controversial policy and went as far as calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove him from office.

But Nocco otherwise has a positive reputation in Pasco County. He was ranked No. 15 on Florida Politics’ list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians in 2023, up from No. 19 in 2022. That recognition noted Nocco’s telegenic persona and his connection to GOP power players such as Richard Corcoran, who now leads New College of Florida a couple of hours to the south of Pasco County, and Will Weatherford, a former House Speaker.

And he shares a home with a prolific GOP fundraiser, his wife, Bridgette Nocco, who is affiliated with the powerful lobbying firm Ballard Partners.

He’s been praised as a cop’s cop, earning a reputation as a law enforcement leader who inspires others. And he is often seen participating in apolitical events to aid the community he serves, including holiday food giveaways.

Nocco has also been heavily involved in the fight to combat human trafficking, establishing within his office a human trafficking unit that provides support to federal investigators.

In addition to other accolades, Nocco has also received praise for making hiring veterans a top priority.

The Florida Association of School Resource Officers recognized the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office’s School Resource Officer unit as the top unit of the year in 2022.

Nocco has also implemented several programs that haven’t faced controversy, including being home to one of the largest behavioral health intervention teams in the state, which works with those, particularly the homeless, battling mental illness or substance use disorders.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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