Sacramento Sheriff Seeks $160K in New Military Gear, Including Drones

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office presented its annual military equipment use report, requesting over $160,000 in new equipment for the upcoming fiscal year. The requested items include multiple drones, firearms, and various types of ammunition, which the Sheriff's Office claims would be useful in high-risk scenarios, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Drones and Less-Lethal Ammunition Top the List

Capt. David Becwar detailed the Sheriff's Office's request for two unmanned aerial systems capable of vertical takeoff and landing (). These fixed-wing drones, equipped with cameras similar to those already in the inventory, can remain airborne for up to two hours, compared to the 20-minute flight time of the current 44 drones. The Sheriff's Office intends to use these drones for long-duration operations such as human trafficking interdiction and organized retail theft blitzes. Each drone costs $43,760 and has a service life of four to five years.

Additionally, the Sheriff's Office requested three DJI Matrice 30T drones for the Rancho Cordova Department, which the Sheriff's Office contracts through. These medium-sized drones, costing $14,000 each with a three-year service life, are equipped with high-zoom and thermal cameras for day or night usage. They can visually follow a vehicle or person and allow deputies to communicate with people using an attached radio and speaker.

Firearms and Ammunition Also Requested

In addition to drones, the Sheriff's Office requested military-grade firearms, high-caliber ammunition, and less-than-lethal projectiles. The cost for this armament would be an additional $32,760 for the coming year.

Residents Oppose Sheriff's Request

During the Board of Supervisors meeting, some residents voiced their concerns about the Sheriff's Office's request for more military equipment. Britt Birrer, whose parents are retired sheriff's deputies, believes that funding more equipment would escalate violence and criminalize poverty. Keyan Bliss, a member of the city's Community Police Commission, shared concerns about the disproportionate use of military equipment and force against communities of color, particularly Black Californians.

According to the Sheriff's Office's 2023 review, 24% of deployment tactics were used on Black residents, compared to 28% for white counterparts. The majority of deployments (63%) were used for men, with a 37% deployment rate toward residents between 26 and 35 years old.

Supervisors Approve Sheriff's Request

Despite the concerns raised by some residents, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Sheriff's Office's request for new military equipment in a 5-0 vote.

DroneXL's Take

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office's request for additional military equipment, particularly drones, highlights the growing trend of law enforcement agencies adopting for various purposes. While drones can be valuable tools in high-risk scenarios and long-duration operations, it is crucial to consider the potential impact on communities, especially those disproportionately affected by the deployment of such equipment.

As the use of drones in law enforcement continues to expand, it is essential to ensure that proper guidelines and oversight are in place to prevent misuse and protect the rights of citizens. Transparency and community engagement should be prioritized to foster between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

While the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved the Sheriff's Office's request, it is important to continue monitoring the use of military equipment and drones to ensure they are deployed responsibly and in a manner that promotes public safety without infringing upon individual rights.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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