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Updated Oct 29, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Sheriff Arpaio sets his sights on getting unmanned drones

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PHOENIX — The Border Patrol, military and other law enforcement agencies have used unmanned drones and now Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants drones at his disposal.

Arpaio said that drones would be able to pinpoint drug smugglers in the desert and aid in search and rescue.

“Other law enforcement agencies use them so I don’t know why there would be a controversy just because I’m looking ahead. Everybody uses helicopters, so what’s the difference?” Arpaio said. “Doesn’t make sense that anybody would be concerned other than the Big Brother issue and they think we’ll be flying over Van Buren and other places. … I wouldn’t be using them on the streets to check people out.”

Seattle officials dropped plans for the police department to use unmanned drones after a storm of backlash from citizens and rights groups.

Arpaio said the people he would be looking for, drug smugglers, would help pay for the drones.

“Money from our RICOH fund, money seized from dope peddlers. These drones are really not that expensive when you look at it.”

Arpaio did not give the cost estimate on the drones and he would need FAA approval to use them.

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