NY sheriff records reveal persistent stingray use without court orders

A New York court recently ruled that the Erie County Sheriff's Office should hand over records on stingray use to a privacy rights group – and documents reveal that, on numerous occasions in recent years, the surveillance devices were used without obtaining a court order.

On Tuesday, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) published the police records. According to release from the organization, the sheriff's office used stingrays at least 47 times between May 1, 2010 and October 3, 2014, including while “assisting other law enforcement departments,” such as the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in the state.

In only one of the 47 instances was a court order obtained prior to police using the device – and even then, in October of last year, the sheriff “did not obtain a warrant but a lower level court order called a ‘pen register' order,” NYCLU said. 

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