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Emails May Prove Nienhuis Forced BOCC to Stop Talking About Spy Cameras

BROOKSVILLE – Last week R News reported that several "spy" cameras had been placed along Hernando County roadways and that no one was willing to claim ownership. Eventually, a source inside the Clerk's Office advised that Sheriff Al Nienhuis had deployed the cameras and sent an email to all county commissioners ordering them to not discuss what they were being used for. To this day, there has been no comment from Nienhuis other than providing R News with the completely redacted email and an invoice for the purchase of the Flock system (Full Story).

After publishing our first story, Hernando County resident Christopher Anger contacted R News and forwarded several emails he sent to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regarding the use of cameras. In his email to the BOCC on March 2nd, Anger asks commissioners how they can afford the "license plate readers" but the Sheriff refuses to purchase body cameras for his deputies. Anger also points out that the cameras are positioned in lower-income areas.

BOCC Chairwoman Beth Narverud responded the same day stating, "I am not sure but that may be part of a study that was required for an applicant trying to build something on or near that particular intersection."

Commissioner John Allocco responded on March 4th and stated, "I emailed DPW and HCSO and was told this was not county DPW. HCSO responded that it is fact their equipment and that you are welcome to contact them for more information. As you already know, the BOCC does not set HCSO policy, but it does appear to be license plate readers."

Commissioner Brian Hawkins also replied on March 4th stating, "From my understanding, these have been strategically placed throughout the county starting 3 years ago. I am researching this myself and will talk with the Sheriff to understand what they are used for. I'm assuming they are license plate readers, but I need to confirm."

Commissioners Jerry Campbell and Steve Champion did not respond to Anger's inquiry.

On March 8th, four days after Anger received responses from the BOCC, Sheriff Al Nienhuis sent a two-page email to all commissioners, allegedly ordering them to stop answering questions about the cameras, according to a confidential source. Nienhuis claims the content of that email is exempt from public disclosure under Florida Statute 119.071(2)(d), so when we obtained a copy of the email, it was completely redacted except for the names of those who received it.

By the time we began our investigation, the BOCC had gone silent and didn't respond to any of our inquiries. The only response we received was from Hernando County Government PIO Dominique Holmes, who said there was no public record of an agenda item concerning the Flock system.

According to sources, there is a possibility that Sheriff Nienhuis may have violated Florida's Sunshine laws by having private communication with the BOCC and not informing the community. Essentially, Nienhuis has used taxpayer dollars to purchase and implement spy cameras and he doesn't have to tell you what type of data he is collecting.

One of the cameras is pointed at the Hernando County Detention Center, which could be collecting personal information on anyone coming and going to the jail. The data collected can then be used to track individuals wherever they go in the county, even if they aren't suspected of a crime. Legal experts say Flock is nothing short of a GPS monitoring device placed on citizens, allowing every law enforcement agency in the United States, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track your whereabouts.

R News will continue to follow any new developments regarding the Flock system in Hernando County.


Reader Comments(2)


Sounds like Nienhuis better stop recording innocent civilians and put cameras on all the deputys including himself. Mainly to hold them accountable considering they are claiming that Spring Hill is overrun with guns, drugs, and crimes. Why aren't those taking priority. Protecting innocent citizens instead of tracking them from the massive data breach Hernando County is responsible for. Why hasn't this data been protected better, and what is he doing to notify the public and take steps to alert people there data has been compromised. Smells like a lawsuit if you ask me. Worry about the theifs who stole peoples info and pay for them to have credit monitoring. Why isn't he being held accountable for this and the lack of body cameras? Must be too busy arranging sex parties, or training his officers to sleep in the median strip of rt 19, or disbanded units, ride alongs how to hand out tickets. Problems at the top trickle down folks They need to replace upper management to fix their problem

Localviewer writes:

Thanks for reporting what is going on in spring hill you are doing important work and it is appreciated.

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