The militarization of our local police forces continues, and as local law enforcement gets their hands on high-grade, weaponized and war-ready equipment, an authoritarian streak goes right along with it.
The sheriff of Erie County, New York, told the State Legislature it was none of their damn business how they use their high-tech cellphone “sniffers” to spy on Americans.
Timothy B. Howard told a committee the “Stingray Tracking Device” his department has owned for six years wasn’t being used to tap into citizen’s phone conversations, but only for tracking their movement. And that’s all he would say. The Erie County Sheriff’s Department received the device – and other surveillance equipment – from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of an ongoing effort to supply local law enforcement with high-grade military equipment.
He wouldn’t tell the elected officials about the scope of the device’s capabilities, how well it worked or how many times his department has used it.
With no disrespect to this honorable body … the specific use of the device should be left to the monitoring of the courts and not to the Legislature or to the media,” he said.