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Will a $46,000 federally funded COVID-19 drone fly in El Cajon?

Justice Department money for aerial spy cams rejected in South Carolina

El Cajon chief of police Mike Moulton
El Cajon chief of police Mike Moulton

San Diego politicos are finding some novel uses for federal COVID-19 bailout funds, judging from a review of coming city council agendas from the county's eighteen incorporated municipalities.

In El Cajon, the police department wants to acquire an "Unmanned Aerial System (Drone) with FLIR Camera" for $45,575 and "a Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer" costing $30,000, according to a report by chief of police Mike Moulton, prepared for the council's May 26 agenda

$13,780 worth of "tourniquet holders" are also on the police department's shopping list.

El Cajon applied for the grant money on April 28 and was awarded $89,355 on May 8, the document says. The report adds that funds from the program "must be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus."

"Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to overtime, equipment, supplies, training, and travel expenses," says the memo regarding the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program operated by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer costs $30,000.

A law enforcement drone purchasing request using COVID-19 funding was rejected on Monday, May 18, by South Carolina's Spartanburg County Council.

In that case, ten aerial drones costing $10,700 each for a total of $107,000 were part of Sheriff Chuck Wright's proposed coronavirus grant tab, along with "472 personal protective equipment kits at $63,205; 185 cases of gloves at $30,525; 285 cases of hand sanitizer at $6,270," according to the Spartanburg Herald. Total value: $207,000.

"This is unfortunate timing," said council chairman Manning Lynch as he joined a 4 to 3 majority vote to reject buying the drones.

"You're bringing up something that's a tad bit controversial, potentially highly invasive at a time when we've had basic constitutional rights struck from us," added Lynch. "I'm proud Spartanburg County has not been a party to that in anything we've done."

"At the same time, it makes me nervous as heck when I think of all the things, not allowing assembly to practice our religious faith is kind of amazing. It's hard to believe that that's going on in this country and state and this town right now. I'm a little leery of the government wanting any more access to my private life right this minute."

Spartanburg's Lynch: "Highly invasive at a time when we've had basic constitutional rights struck from us."

Said colleague Roger Nutt: "If I need somebody between me and the Constitution, it would be Sheriff Chuck Wright," Nutt said. "Only problem is, after I'm long gone and the Sheriff's gone, there will be other people in charge.

"There's no idea what those folks will think about using drones – looking into people's backyards, seeing if they have derelict vehicles, things we don't do now. In this case, it really is a stretch to say because of COVID, we need drones."

The paper reported that a compromise that would have limited the drone purchase to five also died on a 4-3 vote. Following the failure, the sheriff said he wasn't giving up. "Maybe we can word it differently to address their legitimate concerns."

Roger Nutt: "It really is a stretch to say because of COVID, we need drones."

No specifications are contained in the El Cajon report for either the drone or the Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer included in the COVID-19 grant purchase. EyeQ Monitoring, a vendor of such surveillance products and services, describes a similar-sounding device on its website as "designed to make temporary site security and intelligence simple."

"As soon as our equipment arrives, simply park it where you want, raise the mast, and your site is live – allowing your team and ours to view the site remotely via desktop, smartphone or tablet."

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6

You can't get a good aerial shot of COVID-19 graves being dug or drive-by 'rona funerals in progress without a drone and the sheriff knows it. Good he plans to re-work his request. Great quotes from those good-ol'-boy Southern politicians protecting privacy rights.

May 22, 2020

Drones are an invasion of privacy. We're all entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Will drones be able to maneuver through the Fourth Amendment's doctrinal loopholes?

May 22, 2020

EDITOR: You might want to update your picture of EC Police Chief Mike Moulton. The picture you posted show Chief Moulton when he was a Captain. Those a Captain bars not Chief stars.

May 23, 2020

Alex, you are correct. I'd hoped that as chief of police this guy was showing some class and not wearing some ridiculous military rank insignia. But that's not it, I'm now certain. I have no recollection of when these chiefs started militarizing their uniforms. I'd long assumed that some military-sounding titles were the best that the cops could come up with. Even in England where all this ranking started, the only rank in the "bobbies" that sounds military is Sergeant. The basic level there is Constable. The next level is Sergeant, and above that comes Inspector. But then they move to civilian titles such as deputy superintendent and superintendent. And they sure don't wear military rank insignia.

So nowadays in California, at least, we have the chief of police usually wearing four stars, as in the four stars of a full general in the Army or Air Force or Marine Corps. That's a rarefied rank that usually involves command of tens of thousands of troops, or sailors, or whatever. But who here in San Diego wears those four stars on his collar? Gore, our slimy sheriff does, as does Chief McCoy in Oceanside. I don't know for sure about the COP in San Diego, but his predecessors all wore four stars. A few years ago the chief of the tiny Coronado PD was wearing four stars. So they like to put themselves in league with major military figures of the past and present. (As a point of reference, the Army has only about 14 four-star generals, and it is certain that the AF, Navy and USMC each have fewer than that.) Moreover there are some skeptics who think that such numbers of four-star generals are excessive. But to pile it on, the odious sheriff of LA county has been photographed wearing FIVE stars. He wants to put himself in the company of such officers as Eisenhower, Nimitz, MacArthur, Hap Arnold, Halsey and Bradley. They all commanded forces in wartime in the millions.

This misuse of military insignia by cops may be harmless, or maybe not. Ask yourself why the chief of a small city PD with a couple hundred employees thinks he should wear four military stars on his collar or epaulets, as though he is a major commander or war hero. Is it really harmless, or do these guys (and a few gals) really think of themselves in such highfalutin terms? If they do, we are on the downslope to a police state, and we all should reconsider their role in society.

May 24, 2020

It's harmless. Police departments, and most fire departments are paramilitary organizations.

May 25, 2020

Any time there is money available all those hoping to feed at the trough have to submit a budget request aka wish list or shopping list. Not everything is granted and most of the time the budget has to be trimmed. In the end the wish list is trimmed down to things that are really necessary.

May 23, 2020

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El Cajon chief of police Mike Moulton
El Cajon chief of police Mike Moulton

San Diego politicos are finding some novel uses for federal COVID-19 bailout funds, judging from a review of coming city council agendas from the county's eighteen incorporated municipalities.

In El Cajon, the police department wants to acquire an "Unmanned Aerial System (Drone) with FLIR Camera" for $45,575 and "a Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer" costing $30,000, according to a report by chief of police Mike Moulton, prepared for the council's May 26 agenda

$13,780 worth of "tourniquet holders" are also on the police department's shopping list.

El Cajon applied for the grant money on April 28 and was awarded $89,355 on May 8, the document says. The report adds that funds from the program "must be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus."

"Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to overtime, equipment, supplies, training, and travel expenses," says the memo regarding the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program operated by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer costs $30,000.

A law enforcement drone purchasing request using COVID-19 funding was rejected on Monday, May 18, by South Carolina's Spartanburg County Council.

In that case, ten aerial drones costing $10,700 each for a total of $107,000 were part of Sheriff Chuck Wright's proposed coronavirus grant tab, along with "472 personal protective equipment kits at $63,205; 185 cases of gloves at $30,525; 285 cases of hand sanitizer at $6,270," according to the Spartanburg Herald. Total value: $207,000.

"This is unfortunate timing," said council chairman Manning Lynch as he joined a 4 to 3 majority vote to reject buying the drones.

"You're bringing up something that's a tad bit controversial, potentially highly invasive at a time when we've had basic constitutional rights struck from us," added Lynch. "I'm proud Spartanburg County has not been a party to that in anything we've done."

"At the same time, it makes me nervous as heck when I think of all the things, not allowing assembly to practice our religious faith is kind of amazing. It's hard to believe that that's going on in this country and state and this town right now. I'm a little leery of the government wanting any more access to my private life right this minute."

Spartanburg's Lynch: "Highly invasive at a time when we've had basic constitutional rights struck from us."

Said colleague Roger Nutt: "If I need somebody between me and the Constitution, it would be Sheriff Chuck Wright," Nutt said. "Only problem is, after I'm long gone and the Sheriff's gone, there will be other people in charge.

"There's no idea what those folks will think about using drones – looking into people's backyards, seeing if they have derelict vehicles, things we don't do now. In this case, it really is a stretch to say because of COVID, we need drones."

The paper reported that a compromise that would have limited the drone purchase to five also died on a 4-3 vote. Following the failure, the sheriff said he wasn't giving up. "Maybe we can word it differently to address their legitimate concerns."

Roger Nutt: "It really is a stretch to say because of COVID, we need drones."

No specifications are contained in the El Cajon report for either the drone or the Mobile High Definition Camera Trailer included in the COVID-19 grant purchase. EyeQ Monitoring, a vendor of such surveillance products and services, describes a similar-sounding device on its website as "designed to make temporary site security and intelligence simple."

"As soon as our equipment arrives, simply park it where you want, raise the mast, and your site is live – allowing your team and ours to view the site remotely via desktop, smartphone or tablet."

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Comments
6

You can't get a good aerial shot of COVID-19 graves being dug or drive-by 'rona funerals in progress without a drone and the sheriff knows it. Good he plans to re-work his request. Great quotes from those good-ol'-boy Southern politicians protecting privacy rights.

May 22, 2020

Drones are an invasion of privacy. We're all entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Will drones be able to maneuver through the Fourth Amendment's doctrinal loopholes?

May 22, 2020

EDITOR: You might want to update your picture of EC Police Chief Mike Moulton. The picture you posted show Chief Moulton when he was a Captain. Those a Captain bars not Chief stars.

May 23, 2020

Alex, you are correct. I'd hoped that as chief of police this guy was showing some class and not wearing some ridiculous military rank insignia. But that's not it, I'm now certain. I have no recollection of when these chiefs started militarizing their uniforms. I'd long assumed that some military-sounding titles were the best that the cops could come up with. Even in England where all this ranking started, the only rank in the "bobbies" that sounds military is Sergeant. The basic level there is Constable. The next level is Sergeant, and above that comes Inspector. But then they move to civilian titles such as deputy superintendent and superintendent. And they sure don't wear military rank insignia.

So nowadays in California, at least, we have the chief of police usually wearing four stars, as in the four stars of a full general in the Army or Air Force or Marine Corps. That's a rarefied rank that usually involves command of tens of thousands of troops, or sailors, or whatever. But who here in San Diego wears those four stars on his collar? Gore, our slimy sheriff does, as does Chief McCoy in Oceanside. I don't know for sure about the COP in San Diego, but his predecessors all wore four stars. A few years ago the chief of the tiny Coronado PD was wearing four stars. So they like to put themselves in league with major military figures of the past and present. (As a point of reference, the Army has only about 14 four-star generals, and it is certain that the AF, Navy and USMC each have fewer than that.) Moreover there are some skeptics who think that such numbers of four-star generals are excessive. But to pile it on, the odious sheriff of LA county has been photographed wearing FIVE stars. He wants to put himself in the company of such officers as Eisenhower, Nimitz, MacArthur, Hap Arnold, Halsey and Bradley. They all commanded forces in wartime in the millions.

This misuse of military insignia by cops may be harmless, or maybe not. Ask yourself why the chief of a small city PD with a couple hundred employees thinks he should wear four military stars on his collar or epaulets, as though he is a major commander or war hero. Is it really harmless, or do these guys (and a few gals) really think of themselves in such highfalutin terms? If they do, we are on the downslope to a police state, and we all should reconsider their role in society.

May 24, 2020

It's harmless. Police departments, and most fire departments are paramilitary organizations.

May 25, 2020

Any time there is money available all those hoping to feed at the trough have to submit a budget request aka wish list or shopping list. Not everything is granted and most of the time the budget has to be trimmed. In the end the wish list is trimmed down to things that are really necessary.

May 23, 2020

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