Police in the North Texas suburb of Carrollton want to use taxpayer money from a federal coronavirus relief program on enhancing their ability to spy on citizens and enforce “proper social distancing” outdoors.

The Carrollton Police Department (CPD) proposes buying utility vehicles so officers can increase their patrols of the city’s parks, trails, and public spaces, as well as surveillance software for the department’s drones.

Carrollton Police Chief Derick Miller asked the city manager to add the request to the agenda for Tuesday night’s Carrollton City Council meeting:

The purchase of the two UTVs will allow staff to cover more area during each shift, enhancing interactions with the public while encouraging proper distancing techniques. CPD is also proposing to apply for a video streaming software to attach to our drones that will allow for officers and command rank officials to live stream video of incidents from the substations CPD has set up in response to social distancing.

The money is part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Much of the cash is being sent to state and local governments with few strings attached.

A Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Fund (CESF) administered by the U.S. Department of Justice allocated $850 million to “help public safety agencies address COVID-19.” The funds must be used to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.”

Carrollton was allocated $45,072. No matching funds are required if the city accepts the CESF grant funding.

The city council will vote on CPD’s proposed surveillance equipment purchase at their meeting Tuesday night.

Residents who want to weigh in on the city’s use of coronavirus relief money can find council members’ contact information here.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.