Drones

NYPD to deploy drones over New York, and not everybody's onboard

NYPD to deploy drones over New...
The NYPD is set to deploy drones to act as eyes in the sky over New York
The NYPD is set to deploy drones to act as eyes in the sky over New York
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The NYPD's shiny new drones
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The NYPD's shiny new drones
The NYPD is set to deploy drones to act as eyes in the sky over New York
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The NYPD is set to deploy drones to act as eyes in the sky over New York

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has announced new plans to put drones into the air over the Big Apple, listing search and rescue missions and hostage situations as a couple of the intended applications.

With 14 newly acquired aircraft from Chinese drone giant DJI, the NYPD hopes to push into unmanned aviation to help protect and serve. According the department, the drones will be operated only by licensed police force members as a way of providing tactical support to all of its bureaus.

This could involve providing surveillance at mass protests, offering visuals for officers dealing with hostage scenarios or to document crime scenes. The NYPD also lists a number of unacceptable uses, which includes routine patrol, traffic enforcement, immobilizing vehicles or suspects, equipping the drones with weapons or conducting searches without a warrant.

This is far from the first time a US public safety agency has looked to use drones for its purposes. The NYPD itself points out that more than 900 different state and local police, fire and emergency units in the US have already acquired drones to help with their work.

The NYPD's shiny new drones
The NYPD's shiny new drones

But the high-density urban environment of New York City presents a unique case, and the move has raised privacy concerns among civil liberty groups. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) says the NYPD provided them with a draft policy ahead of the announcement, and they had a few problems with it. Some of these were addressed, while some of them were not.

"The NYPD's drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on police deployment of drones in New York City and opens the door to the police department building a permanent archive of drone footage of political activity and intimate private behavior visible only from the sky," says NYCLU associate legal director Christopher Dunn. "While we appreciate the NYPD's willingness to meet with us before it announced this program, we believe the new policy falls far short of what is needed to balance the department's legitimate law-enforcement needs against the privacy interests of New Yorkers."

For its part, the NYPD is careful with its language in the announcement, stating that the drones will only be used by licensed members of its Technical Assistance Response Unit who have undergone "vigorous training." It describes the technology as a tool it can deploy in "select circumstances," and notes that their use in one-off emergency situations will require approval from the Chief of Department.

"As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology," says Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. "Our new UAS program is part of this evolution – it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD's critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone."

Source: NYPD, NYCLU

6 comments
guzmanchinky
Whose not on board are the criminals who worry that they might get caught... If the NYPD catches me sunbathing au natural on my roof with a dozen lovelies smoking and drinking, I really just don't care. We need to get far more aggressive with facial recognition and surveillance to deal with inner city crime. It is far less acceptable to me that there are so many places people are scared to go than it is for someone's rights to privacy being potentially violated.
Derek Howe
Guzmanchinky - move to China if you want that. In the US, they have to walk a fine line.
paul314
Whatever you do, don't make rude gestures at the drones. People have been arrested for doing that to surveillance cameras...
guzmanchinky
Here in the US, you can't just drag someone to jail for doing nothing wrong, even if it's morally questionable. It's not an all or nothing scenario. More cameras means less CRIME, not less "privacy". If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear HERE.
Derek Howe
"If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear HERE." This is the most used argument, and also the worst. Snowden: "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide, is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say." The 4th Amendment is going to have a tough fight in the years to come.
amazed W1
The trouble is that so many of these "rights" are unthought through concepts, mostly not bearing analysis down to the level of individual cases or even day to day life. On rights to privacy, try living in a small village where everybody can see where everybody else is going. If this right were to be taken to its logical conclusion, watching your neighbour would be a criminal offence, and witnessing in a court of law would become illegal - the criminal's right to privacy being invaded first by the witness and then by the court. Same goes for creditworthiness, lack of motor insurance, suspiciously high bank balances and large money transfers and many other crimes against the rest of society, and of course an employers use of information about your performance at work in the promotion stakes.. My only point of agreement is in what the various media do with the information they get through ignoring this so-called right. But that would be better served by making it an offence to publish or to inform ANY other person of what has been obtained. It would get rid of gossiping for a start.