Sacramento sheriff admits to use of cellphone spying technology

Stating he was prohibited from confirming it earlier, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones admitted on Thursday his department employs cellphone surveillance technology.

After a lengthy News10 investigation, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department has finally admitted they possess and utilize cellphone spying technology. The sheriff's department initially told News10 they had no responsive records related to the technology called Stingrays after a public records request made last fall.

News10 has since obtained procurement records, grant applications and other documents suggesting the sheriff's department did have Stingray technology. When approached with these records, the sheriff's department said a non-disclosure agreement signed with Stingray maker Harris Corporation prevented them from commenting.

The sheriff's department later told News10 they did have responsive records related to Stingray technology, but said they would not provide them. Earlier this week, the sheriff's department provided News10 with heavily redacted records showing they spent about $250,000 on Harris Corporation technology in 2006, but the records don't show specifically what the money was spent on.

The sheriff's department has refused to answer basic questions about the technology, including how the device works, what happens to data collected from innocent third parties, and whether search warrants are being obtained for its use. In a written statement released today acknowledging they do possess a "cell-site simulator," the sheriff's department said they do not retain data from phones that are not the target of investigations and say the device is used infrequently to locate felony suspects or kidnapped persons. They would not comment beyond that on the device's capabilities, saying those details could render it ineffective.


Cellphone spying technology being used throughout Northern California. On mobile:

9 Calif. law enforcement agencies connected to cellphone spying technology. On mobile:

Is sheriff's department using tracking and data-collecting device without search warrants? On mobile:

U.S. reps express concern about use of controversial surveillance device. On mobile:

These heavily redacted documents show the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spent nearly $250,000 on purchases from Harris Corporation, which makes cellphone spying devices and other technology.

Purchase Orders


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