A stingray is a device that mimics a cell tower and thereby tricks all wireless devices on the same network into communicating with it.
Howard told Erie County legislators last week that the stingray surveillance device his office has owned since 2008 is used only for tracking a person's movements, not for gathering content of cellphone communications. The surveillance equipment can capture data from targeted cellphones even when they're not in use.
He told the lawmakers that the courts should determine how he can use the equipment, not them.
Use of the device has raised concerns among Buffalo-area lawmakers over potential abuses of people's privacy.