By Matt Drange.
Amid the ongoing debate over officer-involved shootings, the county sheriff’s office in this California beach town was the first law enforcement agency in the world to test new technology: a tiny sensor that records any time a deputy’s gun is fired.
Yardarm Technologies Inc., the Silicon Valley startup that makes the sensor, has had only one other testing ground so far – a small police force in Texas – which abandoned the product in January, after officials decided it wasn’t a viable technology for the department.
The biggest difference between the two pilot projects? A sheriff gung ho about technology who recently retired and now advises the company.
In Santa Cruz, Yardarm has a not-so-secret weapon in former Sheriff Phil Wowak, who championed the project from its debut in 2013, both publicly and within the department.
The relationship has proven beneficial to Yardarm, which hired Wowak as an adviser in January, weeks after he retired. Wowak receives a monthly stipend and holds an equity stake in the company, though neither side would disclose the monetary value of that agreement.