By Noah Pransky
PINELLAS COUNTY - Following another major bust of suspects accused of seeking sex with underage children, 10 Investigates renewed its public records requests into how law enforcement operates its stings. But again, multiple agencies are refusing to turn over documents, casting doubt over whether they're playing by the rules.
In January, 10 Investigates revealed that officers and deputies may not have followed federal guidelines in trying to lure sexual predators during a sting. Numerous agencies refused to turn over public records.
But it's not just the lack of transparency casting doubt over the January sting, which resulted in 35 arrests. Attorneys tell 10 Investigates they believe the majority of the men have yet to even be charged, three months after their arrests.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police Department, and FDLE have all cited various public record exemptions in their refusals to turn over records from the January sting, while the Manatee Co. Sheriff's Office has refused to turn over records from similar stings.
10 Investigates will continue to fight for access to public records.