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Monday, October 24, 2005

Sheriff Won't Keep Files On Political Protesters

"MELBOURNE -- After complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office has agreed to stop routinely keeping criminal intelligence files on political protesters. The changes follow months of negotiations between Sheriff Jack Parker and the civil rights group, which will help train deputies about the policy change in November.

Controversy erupted after a January rally against President Bush attended by about three dozen protesters in front of Melbourne City Hall. Undercover sheriff's agents and uniformed city police officers videotaped protesters, photographed 23 license plates and created files on six "persons of interest." Records show the officers contacted Patrick Air Force Base security personnel even though no threats of violence were identified and no trouble happened.

The new policy says deputies can monitor public rallies only with senior command approval under "an identified credible potential threat for violence." If no illegal activity happens at a rally, no identifying information about participants will be noted in sheriff's reports."

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