2013

Santa Cruz shootout

Two Santa Cruz city police detectives are killed. Officials confirm that the suspect shot the officers and then took their guns, which he uses in a subsequent shootout with police that ends in his death. A few weeks later, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak meets with Yardarm CEO Bob Stewart. They discuss Yardarm’s sensor and the recent killings of the detectives.

2013

Yardarm unveils sensor

Yardarm debuts its sensor at a wireless technology conference in Las Vegas. An Associated Press report on the product triggers a flood of angry messages from concerned gun owners directed at the company’s founders.

2013

Sensor pilot project

Wowak agrees to a preliminary pilot project with Yardarm and “a subsequent beta test.”

2013

A favor from a friend

Wowak emails his friend Nick Warner to set up a meeting with Yardarm executives at Warner’s Sacramento lobbying firm, Warner & Pank LLC, which represents the California State Sheriffs’ Association.

2014

Sensor demo in Las Vegas

Yardarm demonstrates its sensor at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas. The company says it will stop marketing to consumers and instead focus on law enforcement and private security.

2014

Wowak announces retirement

Wowak announces he will not run for re-election and endorses Jim Hart for sheriff.

2014

Yardarm goes to Sacramento

Yardarm’s founders hold a series of meetings at Warner & Pank. Wowak and local county Supervisor Zach Friend attend, as do retired Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness, lobbyist Randy Perry and public relations consultant Rob Stutzman. They discuss Yardarm’s future.

2014

Yardarm and Motorola discuss pilot

Wowak, still the sheriff, and Hart, the sheriff-elect, meet with executives from Yardarm and two-way radio provider Motorola to discuss the upcoming pilot.

2014

First sensor test

Members of the Santa Cruz County sheriff’s SWAT team test the sensor at an indoor gun range in Watsonville. They are the first in the country to do so. Yardarm engineers subsequently modify the sensor’s design based on feedback from Wowak’s deputies.

2014

Meetings in Washington

Yardarm executives travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with agencies from the Department of Homeland Security and demonstrate the sensor.

2014

Wowak becomes Yardarm adviser

Wowak retires as sheriff. A few weeks later, he signs a contract with Yardarm, becoming a paid adviser.

2015

Beta test confirmed

Wowak confirms with Hart that his office will be deploying Yardarm’s sensors in the field as soon as this fall.

2015

Wowak emails commission

After Reveal asks Wowak about the potential conflict with his new job, he sends a letter to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission asking for advice, saying, “I believe I have not violated this rule but seek your opinion as the subject matter experts.”

2015

Backing away from project

In response to inquiries about the project from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Hart decides to put the project on hold. “We were intending on doing some testing, but until Phil gets his situation sorted out, I don’t want to drag our agency through anything negative,” he says.

Sources: Emails from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office; interviews with Yardarm executives, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart and former Sheriff Phil Wowak; campaign finance records; media reports