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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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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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